New Zealand cricket August 5, 2012

Is Vettori New Zealand's best Test bowler?

Keith King
Without the need to try and attack Vettori, the subtleties that are so effective in the one-day game prove less effective in Tests. Does his all-round contributions mask his lack of impact at the bowling crease?
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There seem to be certain truisms that are always in articles about New Zealand cricket; the consistent inconsistency, the overachieving in World Cups (four semi-finals reached in the last six one-day World Cups, a record matched by only Australia and Sri Lanka). And then, there seems to be the clichés; the Black Caps a team of battlers, a team of overachievers (given the talent and potential of some New Zealand players, I would say that many of them underachieve) and that Daniel Vettori is the best bowler in the team.

Undoubtedly, Vettori is one of New Zealand's key players, a rare world-class player in a team that lacks real class. He was/is one of the few that could have made an Australian team (until Australia's decline, a way I had of deciding if a New Zealand player was world-class was thinking if they could make a combined New Zealand-Australian team).

The pity is that Australia's decline has coincided with a time where New Zealand's fortunes have taken a further dip, reached new lows. But while extremely valuable, is Vettori really our best Test bowler? He has carried that label for most of his career, with only Bond, Cairns and maybe Martin at times, challengers for the title. Vettori acts as both attacking weapon and stock bowler, often having to perform both roles simultaneously given that the New Zealand attack has often been mediocre.

As a bowler in the short forms of the game, his credentials are unquestionable. His change in pace, length and drift as well as a well-disguised arm ball make him a parsimonious and dangerous bowler in the shorter formats of the game.

In Tests, it's a different story. Without the need to try and attack him, the subtleties that are so effective in the one-day game prove less effective in Tests. Some days, like during the first Test against West Indies when he picked up one wicket in 51 overs, Vettori seems to bowl all day without getting a wicket. Unfortunately, these days, it seems that every day is one of those days.

To illustrate the point, he's captured five wickets in his last five Tests, averaging over 80 per wicket. Are these the stats of New Zealand's premier bowler? So is the old line about Vettori being New Zealand's best bowler still justified? Does his all-round contributions mask his lack of impact at the bowling crease?

Of course, it goes without saying that Vettori has been our best spin bowler since his debut. Only two other spinners, Paul Wiseman and Jeetan Patel, have taken 40 wickets or more since 1997, the year Vettori debuted. However, they both averaged more than 45 runs per wicket with strike-rates and economy-rates significantly higher than Vettori's. But when you look at the 11 bowlers who have taken more than 50 wickets for New Zealand since Vettori's debut and when you see that only Wiseman has a worse average and only Oram and Wiseman have a higher strike rate than Vettori, does it reflect the fact that Vettori has been New Zealand's best bowler? Certainly, he has the most wickets of any bowler in this period (359, significantly more than Chris Martin who has 229) and has the second-best economy-rate of the 11, only slightly more expensive than Oram.

But, the primary job of a Test bowler is to take wickets and for a spinner, to take wickets in the third and fourth innings. Vettori falls down in this category, averaging almost 37 (in comparison, Warne averaged 22.8 and Murali averaged 21).

Looking at the stats, you have to wonder why Vettori is so highly regarded? There are several arguments that can be made to rehabilitate Vettori's aura. He plays for a weak team that seldom score enough runs to pressure the opposition, he has usually lacked support from either fast or spin bowlers, (he didn't have slow-bowling support like Kumble had with Harbhajan and discounting the few games he played with Shane Bond, a quality fast bowler like Warne had with McGrath or Gillespie). It can be argued that the flat, batsmen friendly pitches and smaller boundaries of today's arenas don't help spinners of Vettori's ilk.

It can even be argued that his style of bowling is not well suited to New Zealand pitches (where he has played about half his Tests). It is perhaps this point that is most important as his record is much better away than it is at home (highlighting this point is that he has taken 14 of his 20 five-wicket bags away from home). Away from home, his average drops to 32.9; in comparison Chris Martin's rises to 38.7, compared to about 31 at home.

Maybe, it would be better to describe Vettori as New Zealand's best bowler outside of New Zealand. Regardless of these stats, Vettori as a spinner seems to be irreplaceable in the New Zealand Test team. Injured and invalidated out of the ongoing Test in Jamaica, on a pitch that could be expected to take spin, the team management opted not to replace him with Tarun Nethula, their second spinner in the tour party but went with a four-prong pace attack with Williamson and Guptill offering part-time spin.

Incidentally, this is the same approach the New Zealanders took in Hobart when Vettori pulled out on the morning of the match but then they had little choice. This time, they didn't have enough faith in Tarun Nethula to do a job. It must be discouraging for Nethula, although England did the same by leaving Graeme Swann, a world-class spinner, out of their side in Headingley.

Going with four seamers is an attacking option that looks good if sides get rolled cheaply (obviously) but can look one-dimensional and lacking in ideas if a couple of batsmen get set. While Vettori may not be New Zealand's best bowler, he seems to be the most indispensable, the bowler that can be relied on to pull back quick starts made by opposing batsmen, the bowler who can keep New Zealand in the game for that little bit longer. It's just that the days when Vettori wins a match by bowling a team out seem to be getting further and further apart.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nick on December 27, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    The problem is simply lack of support at the other end. Teams know they don't have to attack him because runs will be consistently fed to them from the other end. Warne had McGrath, Gillespie, and Brett Lee, Murali had Vaas, Pollcok-Donald-Kallis, Steyn-Morkel-Philander-Kallis, Anderson-Finn-Swann, Anderson-Hoggard-Flintoff, Zaheer-Kumble-Singh, Siddle-Hilfenhaus. Look at the test rankings, 7 of the top 10 bowlers from only 3 countries. When one performs well it is reflected in the average of the others because batsmen have to try to score runs somehow. Vettori has had this sort of support for one very brief part of his career: Look at the stats for the tests Vettori played with Shane Bond, NZ's only other world class bowler in the last 10 years and his average drops to the mid twenties. Nothing improves a bowlers average more than the presence of another world class bowler at the other end.

  • Zinga on October 21, 2012, 20:40 GMT

    Vettori wants to keep playing tests because he is driven by stats and wants to pass Hadlee. However his bowling suits the shorter formats much more

  • John on September 1, 2012, 14:41 GMT

    Two people are responsible for Vettori not taking wickets to win test matchesStev Rixon and StephenFleming Rixon changed him to bowling over the wicket and Fleming bowled him for far to long a spells40/50 overs in an innings and with such a work load he ended up with stress fractures in his back.To continue on playing he had to change his action to eliminate futher back problems.This change in his action meant he lost what he had at the start of his career his ability to spin the ball.He has therefore continued on with great subtle variations in flight and pace With out the injuries and better use he could easily have over 600 test wickets.He played in a test at EdenPark against Australia Paul Wiseman the off spinner was in the team ,they bowled over 100 overs on a turning wicket yet Fleming never bowled them in tandem Lock and Laker spent their time often bowling together when the wicket was turning Dan vettori never got that chance and was used as a stock bowlerfar to often ????

  • craig on August 17, 2012, 23:02 GMT

    I think the Arc-lilies heel of NZ cricket is that no-one cares anymore about overpaid under-entertaining cricketers.. More cricket less ego.. as for Lucus 'He still da man'

  • Dan on August 13, 2012, 21:42 GMT

    relatively young NZ team. every batsman, bowler goes through form slump in their career Tendulkar, Ponting, Warne, McGrath. All in all if he retired today he would still hold his head high knowing he made a massive impression on NZ cricket and achieved a hell of a lot in his career.

  • Dan on August 13, 2012, 21:38 GMT

    I also think people shouldnt try to transform our part-time spinners eg Guptill and Williamson into allrounders they are batsman and should stay that way whether they generate more turn or not, Williamson has enough on his plate he is only 21/22 and finding his way still in international cricket so therefore has enough to focus on this early in his career. People only throw Guptill into the equation because he bowls the odd flukey delivery and chips out tired batsman who have been batting for a good part of the innings or tail enders. no disrespect. Forget the stats. look what he has done for NZ cricket, Captain selector and part time coach when the regular coach loses the plot. he is a true genius and and asset to the game. Whether he would make an Australian team or not it doesnt mateer its not going to happen. Hes a kiwi and plays an integral part in the teams he represents. As any cricketer would say form slumps happen and he is far too experienced to be left out of the......

  • Dan on August 13, 2012, 21:23 GMT

    Vettori has never been a big turner of the ball especially since his back injury in 03/04?. after he recovered from that he had to adopt a new style of bowling and moved away from trying to turn the ball to the styles of subtle variation (flight pitch etc) keeping the batsman guessing. Which you have to take your hat off to him because its not easy. it is unfair to pitch vettori against great fast bowlers eg. Bond Hadlee Cairns. you cant compare apples with bananas. Vettori has filled the spinner role in the New Zealand team since '97 and has been of great service to the New Zealand side. The other two genuine spinners they have flirted with Wiseman and Patel as someone further up mentioned. they were tried and tested and usually to know avail with averages over 50. Why cop Vettori with flack when you should be celebrating his achievements. Not many allrounders can say theyve made the 3000 run/300 wickets honour and all going well could join the elite group of 4000/400.......

  • Virk on August 13, 2012, 21:03 GMT

    Vetori is gd but nt like murli, kuble, warner

  • umair on August 13, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    shane bond was the best test bowler for newzealand in my views, but now vettori is the best. Next to vettori is Tim Southee.

  • NotAKiwi on August 13, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    Vettori has lost his ability to spin the ball just like Harbhajan. It's sad to see a top spinner deteriorate. The advent of T20 cricket and a real dearth of good bowlers in New Zealand has also affected his game. Teams are ready to play him out for his 4/10 overs or even milk him for 3-4 runs in tests as the nobody keeps it tight in the other end. But Vettori is also to be blamed as he's not using his guile anymore. In the IPL he had to make way for Murali as batsmen could just play him for 24 -30 runs and not give away their wickets. Batsmen have become smarter in handling bowlers like Vettori who rely on subtle changes to do the trick. More often than not Vettori has had to try and contain the batsmen for New Zealand and thus has become more ineffective than he usually is. However he's a handy batsman and I think it's time to start looking at him as a bits and pieces player(although it is indeed very very sad).

  • Nick on December 27, 2012, 13:18 GMT

    The problem is simply lack of support at the other end. Teams know they don't have to attack him because runs will be consistently fed to them from the other end. Warne had McGrath, Gillespie, and Brett Lee, Murali had Vaas, Pollcok-Donald-Kallis, Steyn-Morkel-Philander-Kallis, Anderson-Finn-Swann, Anderson-Hoggard-Flintoff, Zaheer-Kumble-Singh, Siddle-Hilfenhaus. Look at the test rankings, 7 of the top 10 bowlers from only 3 countries. When one performs well it is reflected in the average of the others because batsmen have to try to score runs somehow. Vettori has had this sort of support for one very brief part of his career: Look at the stats for the tests Vettori played with Shane Bond, NZ's only other world class bowler in the last 10 years and his average drops to the mid twenties. Nothing improves a bowlers average more than the presence of another world class bowler at the other end.

  • Zinga on October 21, 2012, 20:40 GMT

    Vettori wants to keep playing tests because he is driven by stats and wants to pass Hadlee. However his bowling suits the shorter formats much more

  • John on September 1, 2012, 14:41 GMT

    Two people are responsible for Vettori not taking wickets to win test matchesStev Rixon and StephenFleming Rixon changed him to bowling over the wicket and Fleming bowled him for far to long a spells40/50 overs in an innings and with such a work load he ended up with stress fractures in his back.To continue on playing he had to change his action to eliminate futher back problems.This change in his action meant he lost what he had at the start of his career his ability to spin the ball.He has therefore continued on with great subtle variations in flight and pace With out the injuries and better use he could easily have over 600 test wickets.He played in a test at EdenPark against Australia Paul Wiseman the off spinner was in the team ,they bowled over 100 overs on a turning wicket yet Fleming never bowled them in tandem Lock and Laker spent their time often bowling together when the wicket was turning Dan vettori never got that chance and was used as a stock bowlerfar to often ????

  • craig on August 17, 2012, 23:02 GMT

    I think the Arc-lilies heel of NZ cricket is that no-one cares anymore about overpaid under-entertaining cricketers.. More cricket less ego.. as for Lucus 'He still da man'

  • Dan on August 13, 2012, 21:42 GMT

    relatively young NZ team. every batsman, bowler goes through form slump in their career Tendulkar, Ponting, Warne, McGrath. All in all if he retired today he would still hold his head high knowing he made a massive impression on NZ cricket and achieved a hell of a lot in his career.

  • Dan on August 13, 2012, 21:38 GMT

    I also think people shouldnt try to transform our part-time spinners eg Guptill and Williamson into allrounders they are batsman and should stay that way whether they generate more turn or not, Williamson has enough on his plate he is only 21/22 and finding his way still in international cricket so therefore has enough to focus on this early in his career. People only throw Guptill into the equation because he bowls the odd flukey delivery and chips out tired batsman who have been batting for a good part of the innings or tail enders. no disrespect. Forget the stats. look what he has done for NZ cricket, Captain selector and part time coach when the regular coach loses the plot. he is a true genius and and asset to the game. Whether he would make an Australian team or not it doesnt mateer its not going to happen. Hes a kiwi and plays an integral part in the teams he represents. As any cricketer would say form slumps happen and he is far too experienced to be left out of the......

  • Dan on August 13, 2012, 21:23 GMT

    Vettori has never been a big turner of the ball especially since his back injury in 03/04?. after he recovered from that he had to adopt a new style of bowling and moved away from trying to turn the ball to the styles of subtle variation (flight pitch etc) keeping the batsman guessing. Which you have to take your hat off to him because its not easy. it is unfair to pitch vettori against great fast bowlers eg. Bond Hadlee Cairns. you cant compare apples with bananas. Vettori has filled the spinner role in the New Zealand team since '97 and has been of great service to the New Zealand side. The other two genuine spinners they have flirted with Wiseman and Patel as someone further up mentioned. they were tried and tested and usually to know avail with averages over 50. Why cop Vettori with flack when you should be celebrating his achievements. Not many allrounders can say theyve made the 3000 run/300 wickets honour and all going well could join the elite group of 4000/400.......

  • Virk on August 13, 2012, 21:03 GMT

    Vetori is gd but nt like murli, kuble, warner

  • umair on August 13, 2012, 17:51 GMT

    shane bond was the best test bowler for newzealand in my views, but now vettori is the best. Next to vettori is Tim Southee.

  • NotAKiwi on August 13, 2012, 14:27 GMT

    Vettori has lost his ability to spin the ball just like Harbhajan. It's sad to see a top spinner deteriorate. The advent of T20 cricket and a real dearth of good bowlers in New Zealand has also affected his game. Teams are ready to play him out for his 4/10 overs or even milk him for 3-4 runs in tests as the nobody keeps it tight in the other end. But Vettori is also to be blamed as he's not using his guile anymore. In the IPL he had to make way for Murali as batsmen could just play him for 24 -30 runs and not give away their wickets. Batsmen have become smarter in handling bowlers like Vettori who rely on subtle changes to do the trick. More often than not Vettori has had to try and contain the batsmen for New Zealand and thus has become more ineffective than he usually is. However he's a handy batsman and I think it's time to start looking at him as a bits and pieces player(although it is indeed very very sad).

  • Danish on August 11, 2012, 17:02 GMT

    FIrst off,hats off to Mr.Keith King.Great article and right on the money with everything said.One thing i'ld like to add though,Vettori isn't just a world class bowler,he's definitely a bowling allrounder(6 test hundreds and 23 50's).Combine these six test hundreds and 23 test fifties with his 360 test wickets and he does become newzealand's best player(Not saying the best bowler and not saying NZ's best of all times).Those are just stats though,now for people who don't believe in stats and think that people who talk about stats don't really know cricket.I'll counter that using NO stats.Vettori gives you a very good option who can be trusted in a situation like if the team needs to take all the wickets to win a test,he also gives you a really good option in case if the team needs a 150 runs to win with 4 wickets in hand.He IS currently the best player that NZ have,but not due to his bowling.Its because he is an allrounder.The answer to the question is NO,he isnt NZ's best test bowler.

  • Senehas Karunarathna on August 11, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    The legendary fast bowler Sir Richard Hadlee is THE BEST...!!! I don't know why so many people don't mention his name amongst THE best...I think it's because he didn't play for Australia or England.

  • wayne deeming on August 11, 2012, 12:00 GMT

    A spinner? When did Vettori last actually spin a ball?

  • Chiller38 on August 10, 2012, 6:47 GMT

    Christy please! I am Australian and even I don't believe that Hauritz and Hogg are anything better than backyard bowlers so far as the Test arena is concerned. We had two world class leg spinners for peiod of 10-15 years and have had no-one that has even come close to them in ability since. The reason? Our first class pitches are either roads where teams score 500 plus or greentops where the seamers clean up. We DO NOT encourage our first class spinners in Australia at all. Until such time as this happens, Australia may as well name 4 seamers no matter where we play.

  • Chalboy on August 8, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    @ theboss - good call re the comments on Paddles not being mentioned - it's quite clear that the blog is referring to the current era. I believe the cliché for our bowling attack is 'honest toilers/tryers', but they've still been able to bowl top sides out with some regularity (that is, when they've been able to play test cricket). There's nobody there that's going to make you quake in your boots, and we'll have to wait another generation until the next world class bowler comes along. Vettori is no Shane Warne, but then he's a hell of a lot better than some of the pie chuckers we've called spinners in the past. Should he move aside to let someone who gets more wickets (and probably gets spanked in the process early on)? It would a brave selector to do that. It's the batting that's more broke than the bowling, so fix that first.

  • den on August 8, 2012, 7:18 GMT

    Answer No - Sir Richard Hadlee If he wqas playing last week the WI would have been rolled for under 100

  • Sulzberg on August 8, 2012, 5:22 GMT

    Vettori is consistant and thats it, he is not a match winner and never has been. Hadlee and Bond are streets ahead.

  • Daniel on August 8, 2012, 5:17 GMT

    I disagree completely. Up until 2006, Vettori was a fantastic spinner - third best in the world. Now he's a batting all-rounder for New Zealand - he bats at 6 or 7, keeps the pressure on and allows guys like Trent Boult and Doug Bracewell to pick up wickets. He is not a frontline bowler any more.

    Wagner/Boult/Bracewell/Astle should be the first choice attack in my opinion, with Vettori batting at 6.

  • Anonymous on August 8, 2012, 4:55 GMT

    At the moment I feel the bone should be pointed at the black cap batsmen.Good spinners come into their own when they have time and runs to play with. The way they have been batting of late the game has been up if there hasn't been inroads made with the new ball which casts Vettori into the defensive role from the off. Granted, Vettori is not likely to run through the best teams but give him parity going into the 3rd innings or 300+ runs to bowl to in the fourth. You've got to ask when the last tim Dan had a chance to set an attacking field before you get too upset at his strike rate.

  • Blind Chicken on August 8, 2012, 4:16 GMT

    A spinner should turn the ball. Vettori doesn't. That's the problem. You can have all the variations of pace, changes of angle, and accuracy in the world, but if you bowl slow and don't turn it then international players don't have a lot of problems against you. Unless you can swing it late both ways, of course... maybe that's what Vettori should do, bowl it seam up more often, thereby becoming a much more dangerous bowler, like a modern Jeremy Coney, or even the new Nathan Astle, or a blonde trundly version of the demon Gary Troup.

  • Tompuffin on August 8, 2012, 2:01 GMT

    A couple of stats here fellas, in the matches involving Shane Bond, the only genuine strike bowler that NZ have produced, his SR falls to 54 from 80 and interestingly his run rate is raised slightly to 2.7 from 2.6. This could indicate that batsmen are more pressured to attack him with wickets falling at the other end, leading to a great increase in wickets.

  • Shamitha Muthumala on August 8, 2012, 1:33 GMT

    Vettori is too overrated nowadays. He is an ideal limited overs player but not a test player. He can't even spin the ball, even Martin Guptill spins the ball more than him. In places like the Subcontinent and West Indies having a good spin option is very important. Vettori used to be good but now in test matches he doesnt put enough pressure on batsman and they can just milk runs without thinking about run rate. Vettori should stick to limited overs cricket and NZ should groom a good test match spinner like Nethula and give Williamson more opportunity as well

  • Hoady on August 8, 2012, 0:52 GMT

    Vettori is good because, unlike many slow bowlers, he doesn't necessarily need favorable conditions to get results. But like Bond and Hadlee before him, his economy rate is artificially pumped up because good batsmen don't need to take risks against him. There are always three or four other bunnies to get stuck into.

  • Liquefier on August 8, 2012, 0:44 GMT

    @narendra pratap singh - I think the notion that only 'cricket lovers' will agree Vettori is NZ's best all-time bowler (refer Richard Hadlee stats described in my earlier posts to see how wrong that is, it's not even debatable) sets a self-appointed status of a deeper level of understanding about cricket, where only a love for the sport will give you the insight to appreciate Vettori and his subtleties as to how he is the best NZ has produced, and a world-class all-rounder.

    I love cricket, I think and talk about it every day, play it every week, and analyse the statistics every couple of hours it seems. But that doesn't mean anything other than the fact I love this game. The numbers I produced above prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Vettori isn't NZ's best, not even since he started playing for them, nor is he world-class.

    I dislike the angle that only cricket lovers know how to appreciate a player on a deeper level than the numbers prove.

  • Liquefier on August 8, 2012, 0:40 GMT

    Firstly - apologies to the author, I must say I jumped the gun as I was so dumbstruck by the article heading. I enjoyed the article, it is something I've always said about Vettori. He's overrated as a bowler at Test level.

    He made the World XI which was a fairly arbitrary selection, it felt like it was 'Here you go NZ, we gave you a spot', even at that stage he was mediocre. His bowling average as at that game was 34.86 which is extremely mediocre.

    He's a great t20 player, a good ODI player and a useful Test player (on the basis we assess him as an all-rounder at Test level). As a bowler at Test level he's extremely middling and by-and-large always has been.

    If you are talking about NZ's best test bowler since Vettori has played then Shane Bond. Whilst littered with injuries he was clearly better.

    But he's never been world class at Test level, not as a bowler nor an all-rounder.

  • Mitchell on August 7, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    Sir Richard Hadlee...best New Zelander bowler ever. He was a man on a mission.

  • narendra pratap singh on August 7, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    vettori is not only nz best all time bowler but also one of the best all rounder of recent years of world cricket and a spinner also i yhink cricket lovers agreed me?

  • Mantrid on August 7, 2012, 12:29 GMT

    christy you must be dreaming if you think Brad Hogg was a good test spinner, I doubt he could get me out!

  • Matthew on August 7, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    Williamson looked more threatening then Vettori during the first test.

    Its no coincidence that our first test win against australia in twenty years was without him either.

  • theboss on August 7, 2012, 11:01 GMT

    Liquefier, I think you missed the point of this article-it's not saying that Vettori is New Zealand's best ever bowler. However, he is often described in the media as New Zealand's best current bowler and the article is based on debasing that. There was a time he was considered world class-he was picked in the World XI team that played Australia. You can dispute the merits of that team but it does show he was highly regarded.@what era are you talking about, I think the author was only talking about th era since Vettori debuted. @Chalboy, fair point, New Zealand's bowling is much better than New's batting but while weak may be too harsh a word to describe it, it's has been only mediocre at best.

  • Muggsy on August 7, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    I'm worried about vetorri. I was watching that first test on a pitch that had turn in it and he was bowling straight breaks. And you can only rely on flight so much to get wickets. You still need to be able to turn one enough to take an edge or set up for a arm ball LBW. If he contiunes to not spin the ball I feel taht he may struggle to get back to his best, especially in test cricket

  • christy on August 7, 2012, 6:41 GMT

    mate, if your talking about testsvettori wouldn't make 12th man in the Aus-NZ team. stuart macgill, Nathan hauritz and brad hogg were and are all better options by far, and they could very rarely play 2 spinners with their pace options!

  • abuzar on August 7, 2012, 5:48 GMT

    very true article

  • EDC on August 7, 2012, 5:48 GMT

    Very good blog. One has to suspect that Vettori would better suit the current England or south Africa teams, where he could bowl tightly and defensively - allowing fast bowlers to attack - than as an ostensible spearhead who, rather than bowling his naturally economical game, feels compelled to attack, which is, paradoxically, less effective. I still believe Vettori is a class above any other NZ bowler. Though, as you so rightly point out, his diminishing powers and very visibly contrasting effectiveness in the Test arena compared with the short formats appear to place him closer to his team-mates (particularly Southee, in my opinion). I still believe, despite this, that he remains NZ's premier bowler, though would be suited more in a team with better fast bowlers, therefore playing a secondary role.

  • beejaytee on August 7, 2012, 4:39 GMT

    "Is Vettori New Zealand's best Test bowler?" Yes, he is. Look at his returns in any Test with a genuine strike bowler (pretty much just Bond), or even his returns when any other bowler in the attack has a run rate less than two (Pretty much just Oram, occasionally Martin). But the real key to a spinner's success (or lack thereof) is his team's batting. Third and fourth innings wickets? Don't make me laugh. When the NZ batsmen can even make the opposition bat twice, it is often only to extend a first innings lead, or chase a tiny total. Name anyone you like - Warne, Murali, whoever - they took/take huge numbers of wickets on the 4th and 5th day. Considering how often NZ fold in 3 days, Dan would need to take wickets from the dressing room, or the tour bus. Not to mention that spinners often take 0-90, then end up with 5-120 or so. Again, there are just not enough runs on the board for Vettori to do this, ever.

  • Anonymous on August 7, 2012, 4:03 GMT

    sounds like ponting

  • Anonymous on August 7, 2012, 3:33 GMT

    well it must be some concern that when kane or guppy have a bowl they spin it more... His bowling is over-rated because of his all -round skills in the same way Sobers bowling skill is over-rated. I know people are gonna be up in arms about this but sobers strike rate, was 91 Vettori's is 71 or thereabouts Hadlee, Bond, Murali, Warney are all around the 50 mark.... His role in the team has changed to a containing bowler. If he is our best bowler we are a trully weak team

  • Tony on August 7, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    It has been a fair while since Vettori was NZ's best bowler. He is however an extremely competent batsman and should be played as one. NZ is not going to progress until Vettori stops telling the skipper and the coaches where, when, and for how long he should bowl. A couple of overs to use up an old ball, change the bowler ends or even just to mix it up for 2 or 3 overs maybe - but that should be the full extent of it. Maximum 5/7 overs per innings. It's either retire or bat 6 - period.

  • Big T on August 7, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    Of course he isn't NZ's best test bowler. He is their worst frontline bowler by a margin and has been for most of his career. He plays because he is the best spinner and can bat. That doesn't mean he is more effective than the seamers. As your own stats show, over the length of his career Vettori has consistently proven less effective than any seam-bowling colleague who plays for any length of time.

  • sirNathe on August 7, 2012, 1:20 GMT

    You are right, Vettori is not a wicket-taking spinner in test cricket and we can't afford to play him as 1 of 4 front-line bowlers. I was hoping he'd make a success of the No6 spot where he could act as the 2nd spinner/stock bowling option but unfortunately his technique was found out by the South Africans last summer when aging 4th seamer Jacques Kallis bounced him out at Hamilton. Although, given our continuing problem in the batting dept, we are probably not losing much by persisting with him there. Certainly we can't go on in tests with a spinner who won't take many wickets, we should be giving blokes like Nethula a crack.

  • Liquefier on August 6, 2012, 23:58 GMT

    ‘numbers aren’t everything’ statements, but ultimately they are, they are a summation of a cricketer’s abilities over an extended period of time, and given the rich data available in Cricinfo’s statsguru, you can really dissect any player throughout the course of their careers. The above is a basic investigation into why Vettori isn’t NZ’s best bowler. The ‘numbers aren’t everything’ is bandied around for players like Vettori and Flintoff, who’ve been given praises in excess of their abilities, however these same people don’t exist on forums discussing real champions like Tendulkar or Kallis or Lara.

  • Liquefier on August 6, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    and never will be. Therefore I was stunned to read that there was even a suggestion he could be NZ’s best bowler, anyone remember Richard Hadlee? As this article is about bowling (I included Vettori’s batting stats to further undermine this loosely applied ‘world-class’ tag that follows him around) we’ll ignore that Hadlee hit over 3000 runs at an average of 27 with the bat. He took 51 wickets against the West Indies during a time where they were world class (correctly applied this time) at an average of 22.03. His overall stats of 431 wickets @ 22.29 are amazing, and even when removing minnows of the time Sri Lanka (where he took 37 wickets at 12.78) we get 394 wickets @ 23.19. THAT is one of the best bowlers in the history of cricket, at least post-war (anything prior to that is hard to adjudicate side-by-side with modern day cricketers as things have changed considerably), let alone New Zealand’s best bowler. This article is bizarre, and I’m sure I’ll get the standard

  • Liquefier on August 6, 2012, 23:56 GMT

    So 360 wickets @ 34.42 runs per wicket is forgettable in any capacity, remove Zimbabwe and Bangladesh from his stats and it becomes 277 wickets @ 38.63 runs per wicket and 87.27 balls per wicket. It’s an illogical yet recurrent theme with Vettori to hear ‘world-class’ bandied around. He isn’t, at least certainly not as a spinner or bowler alone. We’re talking at Test Level here, t20 and even ODI is a different matter. Add in his batting, an average of 30.10 is certainly useful, and we get a handy player. Once more, when we remove Zimbabwe and Bangladesh from his overall batting stats of 4516 runs @ 30.10 and we get 3730 runs @ 28.26. Certainly still very handy, however when you piece together both statistics sans the minnows, you get a man who bowls at 38.63, striking once every 15ish overs, and averaging a tick over 28 with the blade. Even with the combination of his bowling and batting, and including the minnows, bowling at 34 and batting at 30 is not world-class, never has been

  • Muhammad on August 6, 2012, 22:19 GMT

    I think Vetori is an underachiever when it comes to his batting, he definitely has talent in batting and to my belief he should focus more. I dont know what was the goal of this article, but I think Vetori is quite a decent bowler and given the NZ team and given the status that he is the only world class bowler in the team, I think 359 wickets is quite telling.

  • Graeme on August 6, 2012, 22:14 GMT

    Whilst you can not deny that Danny has done an absolute stella job for the Black Caps, maybe it is time his role in the side changed. The Black Caps line up is very fragile at the moment, and his batting only seems to have improved with time. Maybe we need to cash in a bit more on his ability to score in funny areas. Danny needs to be the batting all-rounder in at number 6. It gives us a bit more batting stability and we can also use him for his bowling prowess. This opens up the option of playing either a 4th seamer, Nethula or even N McCullum. The Black Caps missed a trick in the WI, Deonarine & Narine were spinning it a long way....our part time spinners didn't have the same impact. We should be exposing our younger spin talent to as much of Danny's experience as possible, because he's not going to be around for ever, and im sure Nethula would relish the opportunity to bowl in tandem with Vettori.

  • Jacob on August 6, 2012, 22:10 GMT

    Do any of the experts have an idea of why Vettori’s wickets are drying up? I don’t get to watch enough live cricket to see if there’s any noticeable difference in his flight or turn these days, or whether batsmen are playing him better than in the past. It’s interesting to note his average when playing with Shane Bond though, the difference that a world class seam bowler makes. Of course, Shane Warne was still highly effective even when McGrath was injured or below his best (such as the 2005 Ashes), but he was a special case, as was Murali.

    It seems like a great chance for Nethula to play. A dead rubber against a merely reasonable team, with the knowledge that he’s likely got a place for the next series too. Vettori might get more from his career returning to ODI/T20s full time and playing only in tests where a 2nd spinner is required. A hit to his ego I’d imagine, but it’d be a shame to waste his considerable talents if being the primary test bowler isn't working anymore.

  • What Era Are You Taling OF ? on August 6, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    Is this article considering players from 2000 onwards ? 1990 onwards ? Or, time since the author started watching cricket ? If its all-time, where is Hadlee ? Why Bond can't make it to Aussie team (or any team)?

    I may sound pissed because I read the whole article for some insights... but it looked like a so-so personal diary of a cricket fanboi.

  • Naveed on August 6, 2012, 20:48 GMT

    It is a blessing that Vettori is injured. NZ should pick a couple of Spinners for the Tour and play both of them in India tests. Maybe NZ will find a spinner who could really spin the ball.

  • Matthew on August 6, 2012, 20:41 GMT

    I'm afraid I cannot agree with the underlying theme of this article. Vettori is not a world class player. Vettori has never been a world class player. At least not in Tests.

    His bowling has rarely been anything much more than serviceable, producing minimal turn even on surfaces that offer plenty whilst performing a very useful holding role with the ball. He has a fine career to look back on but he has never been world class. When you couple his efficient bowling with superb lower order batting, at times looking like a genuine batsman, he has served the team well. Unfortunately his bowling has regressed to such an extent that he can barely do the holding role, without being remotely attacking, which is pretty useless. The NZ team either needs to introduce a fresh spinner, go in with 4 seamers, or hope Dan's batting can hold up at number 7. Otherwise I feel a very good career is at an end.

  • J on August 6, 2012, 17:53 GMT

    I never rely on him to spearhead the attack to take 10 wickets. His average and strike rate are too low, and barely enough to justify his position as a bowler. His combined bowling/batting gets him in the squad, so he should put his hand up and bat in the position of an all-rounder (5 to 7). His current cricketing schedule also does not facilitate staying in form as a top-class, test player. Due to the lack of test matches handed to New Zealand every year by the ICC, he plays only 4-6 world-class, high intensity games a year. Between that, he plays ten or so 20-20s (bowling a total of only 4 overs), and then the odd domestic cricket game in New Zealand, with nothing on the line and a considerable drop in the quality of sides. If he wishes to stay on top of his game, and be remembered as one of the greatest all-rounders, I believe he needs to play more high intensity games. He could re-join the ODI squad, or, quit the IPL and get a contract playing county cricket between internationals

  • Geoff Stevenson on August 6, 2012, 15:30 GMT

    All good things come to an end and the sad truth is that Daniel Vettori's stellar career is over. He and New Zealand cricket need to find a way for an dignified exit.

  • Anonymous on August 6, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    Guys like Vettori & Zaheer Khan should retire and become bowling coaches.

  • NZ fan on August 6, 2012, 14:08 GMT

    I've been saying this for years! Unfortunately Vettori is NZ's version of Darren Sammy. He doesn't realistically command a place in the test team with his bowling or batting alone, but his all round contributions and experience mean the selectors are loathe to drop him. People who really understand cricket know that his time has been up for a while, but the general public still see him as our best player! Nethula needs to be given a decent chance otherwise he will become the next Jeetan Patel - given a bit-part role which can crush a spinners confidence.

  • billy on August 6, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    i think the problem is the lack of variety in his bowling, and he never improved from his impressive beginning. still hes the same old vettori that started decades ago wit respect to his bowling.

  • Pintoo on August 6, 2012, 13:00 GMT

    We miss Vettori....

  • Chalboy on August 6, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    A fair assessment, except it's a bit harsh to claim that NZ has a weak bowling attack. Too often we've managed to get inroads and even bowl teams out for low totals, only for the top order to collapse in a heap, and leave the bowlers to eek out a fair swag of the runs (witness the second test vs the Windies). Perhaps the tired cliché here is that NZ has a weak bowling attack? Vettori might not be the greatest wicket taker at the moment (or ever?) but spinners also need runs to play with if they're going to attack. If you've only got 200-300 on the board, someone's got to plug up one end. Look no further than the Librarian to do that job, and do it well.

  • Michael Aspinall on August 6, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    I don't follow New Zealand's cricket ritually but from what I have seen in tests that Vetorri is very economical without taking wickets. This is due to the teams realising him as a threat and playing him out and getting runs off the quicks, rather than attacking him. This could also be why his average has got higher because he will bowl many overs conceding under 3 for no wickets.

  • mason the mason on August 6, 2012, 12:24 GMT

    i hoped over the last few years that vettori could play more of a role with the bat and bowl as an allrounder so that we could play a genuine spinner aswell as vettori. this would give the captain more options, with vettori able to dry up an end with an attacking spinner at the other. unfortunately it hasnt happened, his batting is flaky still, and the selectors refuse to pick anyone else. vettori has saved nz in many test matches, but when did he last win one?

  • Hardy on August 6, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    Test bowlers have to take wickets, simple as. I really don't like seeing bowlers bowling to contain, wickets are just so much more exciting, which is why Shane Bond was so good. Ahhhh why did he always have to be injured, what a player he was.

  • Yash on August 6, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    Another player spoiled by the IPL... he used to be an attacking bowler but these days hez concentrating only on containing the batsman...same happend to Bhajji too... Bhajji's case is even worst,hez going round the wicket for rights handers right from his first spell of a test match... thats negative thinking and that made all these bowlers look below par....

  • ash on August 6, 2012, 11:36 GMT

    would have had 500 wkts by now if he had played for any other country....simple!

  • N. Sundararajan from Chennai, India on August 6, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    Yes, this article is primarily about the bowling and Vettori's bowling--but then, one cannot completely exclude his batting talent when one discusses his value to the team. None of the other bowlers mentioned can even bear any comparison with Vettori's value as a batsman !

  • Mushtaq Syed on August 6, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    Dan Vettori is certainly the best CURRENT test bowler. But if its all time 'Best Test Bowler' from the Kiwiland, he has to be none other than SIR RICHARD HADLEE. NONE CAN MATCH HIS SKILL, and thats With all due respect to Dan Vettori.

  • Joe on August 6, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    As an Australian, I'm not the most qualified to judge Vettori's merits. But the reason I have always held him in such high regard is his confidence in his abilities. He has guile, and that's something a spinner needs. The willingness to toss it up even after being smashed for four. The stare, the sly smile.

    Swann and Sunil Narine have it, Warne had it, and Vettori definitely has it.

  • Jack on August 5, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    Daniel Vettori is one of the most consistant bowlers for New Zealand ever since he verse Australia in the trans tasman series. He can bowl at any time, and take tonnes of wickets too. He always is put into the attack to usually break a partnerships and his explosive lower order batting is perfect for when he once batted at number 11. If he bats at number 7 again he will provide his true all round talent.

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  • Jack on August 5, 2012, 22:05 GMT

    Daniel Vettori is one of the most consistant bowlers for New Zealand ever since he verse Australia in the trans tasman series. He can bowl at any time, and take tonnes of wickets too. He always is put into the attack to usually break a partnerships and his explosive lower order batting is perfect for when he once batted at number 11. If he bats at number 7 again he will provide his true all round talent.

  • Joe on August 6, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    As an Australian, I'm not the most qualified to judge Vettori's merits. But the reason I have always held him in such high regard is his confidence in his abilities. He has guile, and that's something a spinner needs. The willingness to toss it up even after being smashed for four. The stare, the sly smile.

    Swann and Sunil Narine have it, Warne had it, and Vettori definitely has it.

  • Mushtaq Syed on August 6, 2012, 11:28 GMT

    Dan Vettori is certainly the best CURRENT test bowler. But if its all time 'Best Test Bowler' from the Kiwiland, he has to be none other than SIR RICHARD HADLEE. NONE CAN MATCH HIS SKILL, and thats With all due respect to Dan Vettori.

  • N. Sundararajan from Chennai, India on August 6, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    Yes, this article is primarily about the bowling and Vettori's bowling--but then, one cannot completely exclude his batting talent when one discusses his value to the team. None of the other bowlers mentioned can even bear any comparison with Vettori's value as a batsman !

  • ash on August 6, 2012, 11:36 GMT

    would have had 500 wkts by now if he had played for any other country....simple!

  • Yash on August 6, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    Another player spoiled by the IPL... he used to be an attacking bowler but these days hez concentrating only on containing the batsman...same happend to Bhajji too... Bhajji's case is even worst,hez going round the wicket for rights handers right from his first spell of a test match... thats negative thinking and that made all these bowlers look below par....

  • Hardy on August 6, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    Test bowlers have to take wickets, simple as. I really don't like seeing bowlers bowling to contain, wickets are just so much more exciting, which is why Shane Bond was so good. Ahhhh why did he always have to be injured, what a player he was.

  • mason the mason on August 6, 2012, 12:24 GMT

    i hoped over the last few years that vettori could play more of a role with the bat and bowl as an allrounder so that we could play a genuine spinner aswell as vettori. this would give the captain more options, with vettori able to dry up an end with an attacking spinner at the other. unfortunately it hasnt happened, his batting is flaky still, and the selectors refuse to pick anyone else. vettori has saved nz in many test matches, but when did he last win one?

  • Michael Aspinall on August 6, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    I don't follow New Zealand's cricket ritually but from what I have seen in tests that Vetorri is very economical without taking wickets. This is due to the teams realising him as a threat and playing him out and getting runs off the quicks, rather than attacking him. This could also be why his average has got higher because he will bowl many overs conceding under 3 for no wickets.

  • Chalboy on August 6, 2012, 12:50 GMT

    A fair assessment, except it's a bit harsh to claim that NZ has a weak bowling attack. Too often we've managed to get inroads and even bowl teams out for low totals, only for the top order to collapse in a heap, and leave the bowlers to eek out a fair swag of the runs (witness the second test vs the Windies). Perhaps the tired cliché here is that NZ has a weak bowling attack? Vettori might not be the greatest wicket taker at the moment (or ever?) but spinners also need runs to play with if they're going to attack. If you've only got 200-300 on the board, someone's got to plug up one end. Look no further than the Librarian to do that job, and do it well.