February 28, 2012

Missing Dan

New Zealand have struggled in the limited-overs games against South Africa, without Vettori to hold one end down

The extent to which New Zealand are missing Daniel Vettori as a key limited-overs slow-bowling option has been highlighted against South Africa. Vettori's replacements are yet to show the same flight, drift, speed and angle variations on the world stage. To be fair, they should not be expected to yet - it takes a lot of time to displace the experience gleaned from 272 one-day internationals and 28 Twenty20 internationals - but it could be a sign New Zealand has work to do to match Vettori's input.

While Vettori has been preparing himself for the Test series by playing first-class cricket with top-of-the-table Northern Districts, New Zealand have struggled to tie down an end against South Africa. Vettori would have been useful with his valuable repertoire of deliveries, bowling to some of the world's best batsmen, like Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers in the shorter formats.

The onus is on Nathan McCullum, Rob Nicol, Tarun Nethula and Kane Williamson to restrict the visitors in the final two one-day internationals this week. However, small grounds and pitches that have been giving little assistance to any form of bowler mean progress has been minimal.

There is talk Vettori is open to returning to the one-day ranks, possibly in time for the World T20 in Sri Lanka in September. This seems unlikely, though, given he has a young family, a lucrative IPL contract captaining Royal Challengers Bangalore, and numerous prestigious Test records in his sights.

Vettori has an international economy rate of 4.12 in ODIs and 5.36 in T20s. Such figures have frustrated opponents since 1997; they have often been cause for batsmen to lash out against bowlers at the other end. By comparison Nicol was the best of the New Zealand bowlers in the South African T20s (6.60 runs an over); McCullum chipped in with the best economy rate (3.57) without taking any wickets in the opening one-dayer. Over their careers McCullum (4.79 runs an over in 32 ODIs, 6.49 in 32 T20s) and Nicol (6.22 in 7 ODIs and 7.05 in eight T20s) are less restrictive but comparable to Vettori in the wicket-taking stakes. Nethula - and Roneel Hira for the T20s - are tidy operators but works-in-progress, while Williamson seems more of a go-to-guy if they're looking for a few stock overs of offspin or a sudden breakthrough, rather than a full-time option.

Meanwhile Vettori has been gearing for the upcoming Tests. He took nine wickets at 18.67 in a series of decent spells for Northern Districts against Central Districts in Gisborne and Canterbury in Rangiora which resulted in outright wins. His best bowling was 5 for 89 in 33.1 overs to win the latter match. He also produced batting scores of 17 and 46 in that game.

Vettori is also edging towards a couple of significant milestones that will define his Test career. At his current wicket-taking pace of 3.3 wickets per match, he will pass Richard Hadlee's 431-wicket mark during the tour by the West Indies in 2013-14. With 4389 Test runs and 356 wickets he is also fast closing on Indian allrounder Kapil Dev's unique territory as the only Test cricketer to score more than 5000 runs and take more than 400 wickets.

Andrew Alderson is cricket writer at New Zealand's Herald on Sunday

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 29, 2012, 21:11 GMT

    @Worrel Phulchere Yes I do know that, but I think the words "a lot" is overstating it. That's why I did not bring it up so as to not over-complicate things. He bowled a lot more than Kallis because he bowled mostly spin. He was however one of the true allrounders of the game since he could offspin, legspin and bowl seam. The modern professional era will unfortunately give us less of those kind of performances (except if you maybe play for a minnow team), and Kallis is part of this modern era.

  • greig on February 29, 2012, 20:54 GMT

    Missing Dan and then some ..

  • Andrew on February 29, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    Daniel Vettori is most probably the most underrated of all the great spinners ... most probably because he is from New Zealand and have had few bowlers on the other side to match his economy rate and strike rate ... So with 356 wickets he is far from eclipsing any records in the spin department ... but few can argue that his economy has led to other New Zealanders grabbing wickets on the other end ... But his main attribute in the NZ set-up his his ability to frustrate opposition bowlers, when you have NZ 6 or 7 down and Vettori is quietly making the early successes of the opposition amount to nought ... Notice too that Kallis is a Batting allrounder whereas the likes of Dev and Vettori are true allrounders ... The likes of Shaun Pollock and Ian Botham too ... Warne was more a bowling allrounder ...

  • Dummy4 on February 29, 2012, 8:35 GMT

    We are not missing Dan. If anything Nethula is the next best thing we have and it is good to blood him against quality. The selectors need to have a good look at the likes of the non performing Mills and Southee who are getting hammered and are not contributing anything to the team. For senior players this is not on. Where on earth is Arnel? And Wagner is surely ready to play for NZ by about now? These two are it at the moment in Plunket Shield and we see neither! I must be the only NZer pulling out his hair and losing his patience with the "old school" bunch of selectors.

  • Dummy4 on February 29, 2012, 0:17 GMT

    @LourensGrobbelaar - Hope you know that Garfield Also bowled a lot as a quick bowler.

  • Dummy4 on February 28, 2012, 22:11 GMT

    On Danny Vettori: He is a fantastic player. He is probably the only New Zealander who could force his way on to any international team at the moment. I remember the bespectacled kid who debuted years back and I had no idea he would one day reach the heights he has.

  • Dummy4 on February 28, 2012, 22:09 GMT

    @Gizza: highveldbilly and lourens have pointed out the realities of Kallis operating as a seamer (as opposed to mixing it up as a slow bowler like Sobers) and his role in the team. Quick bowling is tough on the body. In a 15 year career, Kallis has bowled over 3000 overs in Test cricket to go along with his 12000+ runs. His averages in both disciplines show that he is both an effective batsmen and a bowler and his longevity shows that he is a very fit and determined individual. He can still bowl spells of 135kph at this stage of his career. Many bowlers operating at the same pace have broken down from the strain even with the benefit of putting their feet up while their teammates bat for sessions.

  • Lourens on February 28, 2012, 18:20 GMT

    @Gizza To be fair to Kallis, he is a quick bowler not a spinner, as is Daniel Vettori and also Garfield Sobers. Also you will note that Kallis' Average and Strike Rate is both superior to Daniel's and Garfield Sobers', which just goes to show that a spinner can bowl many more overs without to much strain. But yes Kallis has become more of a partnershipbreaker the last 3 years or so. It was Kallis though who in SA's last test against Sril Lanka took the last few wickets t clinch the test. And also the ICC rankings cant lie. There is too much science in it.

  • Dummy4 on February 28, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    danny u r awesome ..hope u will back early and perform well for ur team....

  • Simon on February 28, 2012, 16:35 GMT

    The thing to remember about Kallis is that he has nearly always batted in the top 5. This has relegated his bowling to more of a better than part time usage rather than as the weapon he could have become.

    Vettori deserves to reach the 5000/400 and reach even further. He has held together the fragile Kiwis for the last decade, his batting has become genuinely class from the tail ender he started as. If he can maintain his standards for anotehr 4-5 years (til he's 38) he could even push 6000/500.

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