Daniel Vettori: 100 Tests March 26, 2010

Starring in several roles

Daniel Vettori, who is on the threshold of 100 Test matches, has been New Zealand's saviour in several ways over the last 13 years

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.

Daniel Vettori's Test career in three parts
Period Tests Runs Average 100s Wickets Average Strike rate
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
Career 99 3925 30.90 5 319 33.95 77.0

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.

Best New Zealand batsmen in Tests since June 2003 (Qual: 500 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
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.

New Zealand captains as Test batsmen (Qual: 1000 runs as captain)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
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.

Best Test allrounders since Nov 1, 2007
Player Tests Runs Average Wickets Average Diff in ave
Jacques Kallis 28 1992 46.32 45 31.13 15.19
Daniel Vettori 26 1675 44.07 90 33.11 10.96
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.

New Zealand bowlers in wins since Feb 6, 1997 (Qual: 50 wickets)
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).

Best Test batsmen at No. 8 (Qual: 1000 runs)
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
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.

Best pairs for seventh wicket in Tests (Qual: 500 runs)
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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 29, 2010, 11:31 GMT

    one of the intelligence cricketer and also real talented cricketer

  • Max on March 27, 2010, 3:33 GMT

    I recall a T20 match between the Northern Districts and Canterbury, after the match the entire crowd flocked towards Vettori for autographs at the end of the game... absolute super star.

  • Ryan on March 26, 2010, 8:36 GMT

    That's a wonderful, nuanced overview of Vettori's career S.Rajesh. You've processed a lot of information, and done very well. The only qualifier I would add is that Vettori has doen exceedingly well against Bangladesh - BUT, no matter who the opposition in front of you the wicket still needs to be taken! Go Dan Vettori, a superstar of world cricket.

  • Dummy4 on March 26, 2010, 6:11 GMT

    So, statistician trying to become author....

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