New Zealand news February 5, 2014

West Indies tour is Vettori's fitness deadline

ESPNcricinfo staff

Daniel Vettori's fitness when the team is selected for the West Indies tour will be critical for him to keep alive his hopes of playing in another World Cup. Former New Zealand captain and their most successful spinner, Vettori, has been battling injuries recently, and last played for New Zealand in June 2013. He met captain Brendon McCullum and coach Mike Hesson on Tuesday to discuss his future, and was told he would have to prove his fitness around the West Indies tour, which begins this May. New Zealand will co-host the World Cup at the start of the next year.

Nathan McCullum has proved to be an able replacement in the ODI side even as Vettori tried to stage a comeback through the Big Bash League. He had to struggle with a back injury, though, which negated his claim made through an impressive economy rate of 6.25 in seven matches. Vettori hasn't bowled a ball since, nor is he expected to anytime soon. He has two to three months to get back to fitness. It has been made clear to him that he won't be considered for the World Twenty20 in March.

"To be fair to everyone at NZ Cricket, I sense from speaking to Hess that they need me to be proving my fitness around the West Indies tour, that's when they really want to get on and press for the World Cup," Vettori was quoted as saying by Fairfax NZ News.

New Zealand Herald quoted Vettori as saying: "Mike and Brendon made it clear that if I play for New Zealand again I've got to deliver in all three facets of the game, which is completely fair. I can't just bowl 24 balls, and then expect to be hidden in the outfield [during the World T20].

"I've also got to consider the deal I've signed to coach RCB [Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL], which could require me to be there three weeks early. That might create a difficult situation regarding the World Cup."

Hesson said that fitness in non-negotiable. "There's plenty of water to pass under the bridge," Hesson said, "but the key is we're very keen for Dan to still be available for the Black Caps and Dan is still really keen to play. That's the priority. We're going to have to be pretty rigorous in terms of what we see from him, and whether we're going to select him [for the West Indies tour]. Hopefully he can play some cricket before the end of the season."

While Nathan McCullum might have emerged as a good replacement in limited-overs cricket, New Zealand are struggling to find a Test substitute. Before the start of the home international summer, New Zealand were keen to get Vettori back. They delayed naming of the Test squad against West Indies so that they could see how Vettori went in his Plunket Shield match against Central Districts. It was only his second first-class match in 16 months, and New Zealand decided to go ahead without him. Vettori played two more first-class matches before being injured again during the Big Bash League.

"It was a little bit worse than the past," Vettori said of the injury. "Running around was difficult. I'll just rest up and try and get that ready. If I can then that's great, and if I can't then the writing is probably on the wall.

"It's all about bowling and because I haven't done that for a couple of weeks it's hard to know. I don't want to just sit back in February with no cricket for a little while, and just give it away. If I can work reasonably hard and try to push towards it [an international return], then who knows."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on February 9, 2014, 19:47 GMT

    No @Paul Connell.... he was an awesome player and nothing lasts forever because we die. Okay? Stop posting a point aimed at me when I am merely stating fact. Tendulkar just retired. End of discussion. Ponting completely lost the plot - discussion overkill stage two won. Okay? Cheers.... Also, how did the Brisbane Heat team he played for go? How can you replace McCullum or Neesham in the squad when they actually kick butt? When Fulton and Rutherord don't perform in a winning test team and are retained? Form is temporary, class is permanent is the basis for your point. But there is a converse saying for every saying.... and when I say "Nothing lasts forever" it is, literally, true and factual, not figuratively, like yours.

    If his back goes in his second over of the semi-final or the Eden Park clash versus Australia, you will go back on your have him every time calls. I actually think it's slightly unfair if he takes a starting spot versus the West Indies. Give him the odd game for Nath.

  • stewey on February 7, 2014, 0:18 GMT

    Time for him to retire... far too much injury and recovery time.

    Why on earth did he play for the Big Bash? Seems crazy, as he is probably now back to square one. Will it take another 15 months to recover, then injury again after a game or two?

    Vettori has been outstanding for NZ, but I do believe it is time to move on.

  • Mark on February 6, 2014, 20:19 GMT

    The T20 world cup in Bangladesh would have been perfect for Vettori. Sadly I dont rate NZs chances without a second quality spinner. We have seen how poor NZ does over there (trying my best to forget the last two horrifying ODI series there) and really really REALLY needed Dan

  • Dummy4 on February 6, 2014, 10:44 GMT

    Class lasts for ever. Vettori is class. N McCullum is a good player but will never match what Vettori brings to the team. I'd pick him every time over anyone.

  • Dummy4 on February 6, 2014, 6:51 GMT

    If there is a NZ cricketer who deserves a swansong in a black cap, Vettori must be it - how many games has he played and won for NZ or at least saved us from major embarrassment with the bat and/or ball? I'm sure he will only play if he can compete at the top of his game - like most who recognise a great servant of NZ Cricket, and even World Cricket, we want to see him there if he can make the grade.

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2014, 19:30 GMT

    The World T20 Cup is in Bangladesh - For a start you are not going to be playing 4 pace and one spin option on these pitches....and on what will be extremely batter friendly pitches in NZ for the World need a bowler who understands how to mentally corrupt the batsman. Either by being miserly or going hell for leather to get wickets. While I like what I am seeing in NZ...I would rather see the Miserly Magician the ball rather than seeing one of the pace bowlers going for 60+ runs.

  • Jay on February 5, 2014, 18:32 GMT

    Great player and one of the most underrated of all time. If he regains his fitness, NZ will be a force to reckon with during the World Cup. A truly all-round player.

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2014, 17:43 GMT

    Nathan McCullum and Neesham are way too good to replace in either T20 or ODIs and Anderson is a dead cert. Tests are too long for his dodgy back. Great player and one of our all-time best... but I think it is time to just play t20 and preserve our fond memories. He cannot hit long or take wickets, His economy and guile are second to none though.... but nothing lasts forever.

  • Dummy4 on February 5, 2014, 15:46 GMT

    Is it his achilles again? How does a spinner injure their achilles? Dan was indeed the man but his time has come - and gone.

  • paul on February 5, 2014, 13:59 GMT

    I'd love Dan to play as much as anyone else however I'm peeved that he chose to recover through bbl instead of playing nz domestic and the windies series. I think his heart for the kiwis is gone. Still he is one of our best

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