Vettori faces same old problems
It's not surprising Daniel Vettori looked a tired man after New Zealand's loss in Hamilton. Captain, selector, No. 6 batsman and best bowler is a heavy burden for Vettori.
He bowled 67.3 overs at Seddon Park and flies out in a couple of days to join Delhi Daredevils in the IPL. It will be a welcome break from his many tasks.
However, the time will come when Vettori and his fellow selectors Mark Greatbatch and Glenn Turner must make some decisions on the future of their Test team. Their next five-day challenges come on a tour of Bangladesh and India in six months and the opportunity to regroup will be valuable after a summer in which they won two Tests, lost three and drew one.
The form of Brendon McCullum was a positive from the series loss to Australia, while Martin Guptill made some progress and Ross Taylor fired with a century. But right throughout the summer New Zealand have had issues in two facets of the game that have become familiar problems.
"It is probably the same old theme of trying to get more out of our top three and still looking for that strike weapon with the ball," Vettori said after the 176-run loss in Hamilton. "If we can solve those two problems then the rest of the components within the Test side are not too bad."
The first issue will be eased by the return of Jesse Ryder, who hasn't played a Test this summer due to an ongoing groin injury. His eventual comeback might bump Vettori down from No. 6 but it won't solve the bowling concerns, with the form of the 35-year-old fast man Chris Martin a particular worry.
Martin finished the Australian series with 1 for 260 and his season return of 16 wickets at 47.93 in six Tests was disappointing for a man who should be the strike weapon. Martin's pace has been down but Vettori remained confident he could still play a part in the Test team's future and build on his career tally of 181 wickets.
"I hope people don't write his obituary just yet," Vettori said. "I know he is determined to play for a while longer. He wants 200 Test wickets and I'm really confident Chris Martin can be in the mix with the fast bowlers [for the next tours]. I know he wants to and is desperate to. He is not pleased with his performance in this Test match and hopefully that makes him hungry to get better and get stronger for next season."
Jeetan Patel was another member of the attack who struggled for impact during the summer with four wickets at 74.50 in his two Tests against Australia and Bangladesh. There are other spin options around New Zealand, including slow-bowling allrounders like Nathan McCullum and Luke Woodcock, but Vettori was happy with Patel's status as the second-best spinner in the country.
"They need to bang the door down with their domestic performances," Vettori said. "Jeetan tends to dominate at that first-class level and he's a very good bowler. Sometimes when he is in and out of the team it is difficult so with some Tests coming up on the subcontinent that is his real opportunity to shine."
Such decisions can be postponed for the time being. For now, the New Zealanders can focus on the shortest format. The World Twenty20 starts in a month and before that Vettori can fly to India and remember what it's like to concentrate solely on his own game.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo