We're favourites at home: Vettori
Daniel Vettori, New Zealand's most successful spinner, believes his side should not shy away from acknowledging themselves as favourites ahead of a five-one-day and three-Test series against West Indies.
"I wouldn't say we're overwhelming favourites but I think we generally start as favourites against most teams at home," Vettori told the New Zealand Herald. "Touring teams often take a bit of time to adapt to our conditions and I think we saw a bit of that in the way Sri Lanka began the most recent series. The Windies haven't played any one-day cricket for a while and we're in the middle of our season, so I suppose we are the team to beat. But having said that, if they find their feet they're a very good side and we'll have to play very well to win."
Vettori, 27, has an an impressive record against West Indies, with a career-best 5 for 30 in New Zealand's NatWest final win at Lord's in 2000. During the 1999-2000 series at home, he picked up nine wickets at 18.33 from five one-day matches.
In the absence of Chris Cairns, Jacob Oram, Andre Adams and Kyle Mills, New Zealand have been faced with challenges to their lower-order batting. Citing the loss of these allrounders, Vettori said that the focus would now be on individuals performing their specialist duties. "Without a Chris Cairns or a Jacob Oram there's probably a bigger responsibility on us to contribute across the board," he said. "But I still think it's the top four or five batsmen who'll win one-day games for us."
He indicated, however, that either he or Brendon McCullum, New Zealand's wicketkeeper-batsman, may move up the order. "I suppose myself and Brendon are a bit lucky in a way because we've had chances to open for our domestic sides, and we know how to carry a little more batting responsibility," he said. "But if I'm going to bat eight and we're moving up a place in the order, then there's going to be a greater challenge for a few of us, there's no doubt about that."
The West Indies play a Twenty20 international at Eden Park on Thursday - Cairns's last appearance in New Zealand colours - before heading to Wellington for the opening match of the one-day series.