Starring in several roles
A Test career that began 13 years ago will reach a major milestone when the second Test between New Zealand and Australia starts in Hamilton on Saturday. Daniel Vettori will become only the second player from New Zealand - after Stephen Fleming - to reach the 100-Test landmark (though it'll only be his 99th for New Zealand, thanks to that one game for the ICC World XI). The fact that he plays for New Zealand has meant he's had to work harder than players from teams that have the privilege of more Tests - Ricky Ponting and Shane Warne, for instance, reached the mark in 10 years. That, coupled with the fact that he has played half his Tests in New Zealand, where conditions haven't usually supported spin bowling, makes his achievement even more remarkable.
When Vettori began his career, his batting played a distinct second fiddle to his bowling. In fact, till almost midway through his career, his batting average languished at less than 17, and in his first 67 innings all he had managed was five half-centuries. His batting started coming into prominence towards the end of 2003, and his first Test century - an unbeaten 137 against Pakistan in his 49th Test - kickstarted the second phase of his career, when his batting moved up several notches and he became one of the leading batsmen of the team.
There was a brief period here - between the middle of 2003 and 2004 - when his primary suit suffered as a consequence of his improved batting. In nine Tests during this period, Vettori's bowling average zoomed to almost 76, and his strike rate was terrible - he required 163 deliveries per wicket.
In the last five-and-a-half years, though, the batting and the bowling have gelled together superbly, with the bowling average dipping to below 30, and the batting average soaring to almost 43.
|Till May 2003||46||940||16.49||0||142||33.88||76.6|
|Jun 2003 to June 2004||9||417||41.70||1||16||75.93||163.2|
|From July 2004||44||2568||42.80||4||161||29.83||68.9|
In fact, over the last nearly seven years, Vettori's batting alone has been better than most of his mates: he has scored more runs than any other New Zealand batsman, and his average of 43.14 is next only to that of Jesse Ryder.
|Jesse Ryder||11||898||49.88||2/ 4|
|Daniel Vettori||52||2977||43.14||5/ 17|
|Stephen Fleming||36||2501||43.12||4/ 12|
|Ross Taylor||24||1781||41.41||4/ 9|
|Lou Vincent||12||774||38.70||2/ 4|
Vettori had plenty to live up to when he took over as captain of New Zealand from Stephen Fleming in November 2007, and over the last two-and-a-half years he hasn't done badly at all. Among New Zealand captains who've scored at least 1000 Test runs as captain, only two have a higher average - Martin Crowe and John Wright. Vettori's average is higher even than that of his predecessor: Fleming managed 40.59 in his 80 Tests in charge.
|Martin Crowe||16||1466||54.29||4/ 4|
|John Wright||14||1070||48.63||3/ 4|
|Daniel Vettori||26||1675||44.07||3/ 9|
|Bevan Congdon||17||1067||41.03||4/ 3|
|Stephen Fleming||80||5156||40.59||8/ 31|
|John Reid||34||2129||34.33||3/ 14|
During this period Vettori has also emerged as the leading contender for the world's best allrounder tag. His batting average of 44.07 and bowling average of 33.11 mean there is a difference of almost 11 between the two. The only player who has a higher difference is Jacques Kallis, but his wickets tally during this period suggests he hasn't contributed a whole lot with the ball - in 28 Tests he has only taken 45 wickets, an average of less than two wickets per Test. Vettori, on the other hand, has exactly twice as many wickets, and has scored only 317 fewer runs.
|Player||Tests||Runs||Average||Wickets||Average||Diff in ave|
|Shakib Al Hasan||16||1031||35.55||67||29.61||5.94|
As a bowler, Vettori has been far and away New Zealand's leading man in the last 13 years. Since the time of his debut, he has taken 318 wickets for New Zealand, while next in line are Chris Martin with 181 and Chris Cairns with 159. None of the other bowlers has even managed 100 - Shane Bond has 87 - which indicates how unstable New Zealand's bowling attack has been. While Vettori has played 98 Tests for New Zealand, Martin has only managed 55. (Click here for the full list of New Zealand bowlers during this period.)
The relative weakness of the New Zealand team has also affected Vettori's bowling stats, as has the nature of pitches at home. New Zealand have done much better on home grounds during the period in which Vettori has played - 23 out of their 34 wins have come there - but most of those wins have been fashioned by their fast bowlers, thanks to the conditions in New Zealand. Overseas, the conditions are generally more favourable for Vettori - he averages 36.41 at home and 31.94 abroad - but he has often been forced to bowl defensively, thanks to the lack of runs from the batsmen. Thus, in the 31 wins that Vettori has been involved in, he has taken only 118 wickets - less than four per match - at an average of 22.16.
|Bowler||Tests||Wickets||Average||Strike rate||5WI/ 10WM|
|Shane Bond||10||65||14.81||29.5||4/ 1|
|Chris Cairns||15||74||18.83||40.5||6/ 1|
|Chris Martin||14||68||21.52||40.3||4/ 1|
|Daniel Vettori||31||118||22.16||59.4||5/ 1|
As a lower-order batsman, though, his contribution has been immense. No batsman has been as prolific at the No. 8 slot as Vettori, which raises the oft-repeated question of whether he should be playing much higher up the order. He has scored 2072 runs at that position, which is almost 53% of all his runs, at an average of more than 42. The next best average at that slot is Mark Boucher's 35.87, while only two other batsmen have averaged more than 30 at No. 8 (among those with at least 1000 runs).
|Daniel Vettori||60||2072||42.28||3/ 13|
|Mark Boucher||41||1148||35.87||2/ 7|
|Kapil Dev||58||1777||33.52||2/ 11|
|Shaun Pollock||79||1796||30.96||0/ 6|
|Syed Kirmani||43||1030||28.61||1/ 4|
|Richard Hadlee||53||1235||27.44||1/ 6|
Vettori's No. 8 position has also meant several vital lower-order partnerships, which have often bailed the team out after the all-too-frequent collapses by the feeble top order. He is a part of two of the most prolific seventh-wicket pairs in Tests: with Jacob Oram he has added 516 runs at an average of 51.60, while with McCullum he has added 793 runs in 19 innings, with two century partnerships, including a match-turning 164 in the Dunedin Test against Pakistan last year.
|Pair||Innings||Runs||Average||100/ 50 stands|
|Rod Marsh-Kerry O'Keefe||11||645||64.50||2/ 4|
|Jacob Oram-Daniel Vettori||10||516||51.60||2/ 1|
|Kapil Dev-Syed Kirmani||14||695||49.64||1/ 5|
|Brian McMillan-Dave Richardson||13||504||42.00||1/ 2|
|Brendon McCullum-Daniel Vettori||19||793||41.73||2/ 4|
|Mark Boucher-Shaun Pollock||28||912||33.77||1/ 4|
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo