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Over the last decade Daniel Vettori has offered New Zealand much more than just accurate and incisive left-arm spin
March 7, 2008
When England had taken six New Zealand wickets for just 277 on the opening day of the Hamilton Test, they would have been entirely justified in believing that they would restrict the opposition to around 350. While most teams would have one of their lesser batsmen come out to bat at that stage, out strode New Zealand's best, and what followed was a 148-run partnership that turned the game around and put England completely on the back foot.
Daniel Vettori came into New Zealand cricket 11 years ago as a bright new bowling talent, but over the last decade he has offered much more to his team than accurate and incisive left-arm spin. For the first five years, his numbers as a batsman were decidedly modest, but more recently, the stats have shown a significant improvement.
During the two-year period from January 2003, Vettori doubled his batting average, but over the last three years he has had astonishing success. In the 19 Tests that Vettori has played since January 2005, he averages more than 48, with six fifties in his last 15 innings, which is remarkable considering that in his first 32 innings he only had two 50-plus scores.
|Till Dec 2002||44||878||16.25||0/ 4|
|Jan 2003 - Dec 2004||15||604||33.55||1/ 4|
|Since Jan 2005||19||1060||48.18||1/ 7|
Unlike most of the top sides in international cricket, New Zealand have generally struggled to produce prolific top-order batsmen: apart from Charles Dempster, who averaged more than 65 in ten Tests in the 1930s, they haven't produced a single batsman who has averaged over 50; in fact, only six of their players have averaged more than 40 (cut-off: at least ten Tests), and none of the batsmen in the current line-up have even managed that. With the top order struggling so often, Vettori's batting efforts have shone even brighter: in the last three years he has been New Zealand's best batsman by some distance, averaging a touch above 50 at an equally impressive strike-rate of more than 73 runs per 100 balls.
Among New Zealand batsmen who've played at least eight Tests during this period, only Lou Vincent and Stephen Fleming have managed 40-plus averages, but at strike-rates that pale compared to Vettori's. (His overall average drops to less than 50 due to the Super Test, which he played for the World XI and where he scored 8* and 0.) Considering the batting stats of the rest of his mates, and the fact that he is now captain of the team, Vettori will probably have little opposition if he moves himself a couple of spots up the line-up in the New Zealand batting order.
|Batsman||Tests||Runs||Average||Strike rate||100s/ 50s|
|Daniel Vettori||18||1052||50.09||73.46||1/ 7|
|Lou Vincent||8||578||44.46||57.62||1/ 3|
|Stephen Fleming||20||1253||41.76||52.58||1/ 7|
|Nathan Astle||15||796||34.60||52.71||2/ 5|
|Hamish Marshall||11||543||33.93||48.83||2/ 1|
|Jacob Oram||9||388||29.84||51.66||2/ 0|
|Scott Styris||10||353||27.15||59.62||1/ 1|
|Brendon McCullum||20||753||26.89||68.39||1/ 3|
|Craig Cumming||11||441||25.94||34.86||0/ 1|
All but eight of his runs during this period have come when he has batted at No. 8 or lower, which makes him by far the best lower-order batsman during this period. In fact, with the kind of numbers he has, Vettori is one of the best lower-order batsmen of all time. Among players who have scored at least 1000 Test runs batting at positions 8 to 11, only three - Shaun Pollock, Kapil Dev and Mark Boucher - have a higher average than Vettori's 29.41. Another century from Vettori will make him only the second batsman, after Pakistan's Kamran Akmal, to notch up three Test hundreds from the last four batting positions.
|Batsman||Tests||Runs||Average||Strike rate||100s/ 50s|
|Daniel Vettori||19||1052||52.60||72.85||1/ 7|
|Kamran Akmal||15||756||39.78||63.68||3/ 2|
|Chaminda Vaas||17||645||37.94||47.53||1/ 3|
|Nicky Boje||17||571||31.72||56.36||0/ 2|
|Shaun Pollock||18||517||30.41||66.88||0/ 2|
|Anil Kumble||33||861||25.32||41.65||1/ 2|
While Vettori the batsman has made giant strides over the last three years, he has also ensured that his bowling hasn't fallen away: during this period he has averaged 31 with the ball, with both his five-fors coming against good sides - he took 5 for 106 versus Australia in Christchurch in 2005, and 7 for 130 against Sri Lanka in Wellington in 2006.
|Till Dec 2002||44||139||33.86||7/ 1|
|Jan 2003 - Dec 2004||15||49||38.46||4/ 1|
|Since Jan 2005||19||50||31.28||2/ 1|
His performances with both bat and ball make him arguably the best allrounder in the world today. The difference between his batting and bowling averages over the last three years is a healthy 16.90. Only Jacques Kallis has a higher difference during this period, but he has hardly been a regular contributor with the ball, averaging less than two wickets per Test.
|Player||Tests||Runs||Bat ave (1)||Wickets||Bowl ave (2)||1-2|
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