The Heavy Ball

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All Dan, all the time

New Zealand's only hope is if they have a team full of Vettoris. Bring on the cloning technology

Andrew Fernando

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Daniel Vettori celebrates a wicket, New Zealand v Pakistan, 2nd Test, Wellington, 1st day, December 3, 2009
Vettori: he could bowl himself from both ends, you know © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Daniel Vettori
Teams: New Zealand

I've always been a fan of the New Zealand cricket team. Not because they have ever really been any good. No one likes them for that reason. Not even their own mothers. But I think we all have a soft spot for the Kiwis because we wish more cricket teams could be like them. The way in which they manage to string together competitive performances with a team comprising at least eight players who are fighting for their place at any time is a feat worthy of something akin to praise.

The top order seems to be built like a circus tent. Standing firm for a while, but it's only matter of time until the inevitable, hilarious collapse. Once the shine has been taken off through a series of edges to second slip and the ball crashing into the stumps repeatedly, the real batsmen stroll in at 7, 8 and 9. A half-respectable score is made. Chris Martin gets in. Commentators ridicule his batting for the remaining 20 seconds of the innings. And the Kiwi attack turn up to deliver a billion overs of scintillating middle-of-the-road medium-pace.

Unfortunately, however, cricketers who are particularly good are a little hard to come by in New Zealand. Most local youth are led astray by a primitive form of vigorous mud-bathing known as rugby. This unfortunately leaves them without the physique, the interest, and dare I say, the brain function that is required of good international cricketers. And if they're not head-butting each other into that luscious topsoil, they're too busy planting trees, producing dairy and generally being nuclear-free to take an interest in anything cricket-related, which goes some way to explaining the lack of genuine cricket superstars from New Zealand.

If New Zealanders arae not head-butting each other into that luscious topsoil, they're too busy planting trees, producing dairy and generally being nuclear-free to take an interest in anything cricket-related

The exception to all this, of course, is batsman, bowler, captain, selector, coach and ladies' man, Daniel Vettori. It seems there is literally nothing this man can't do. He's been the most consistent bowler for New Zealand in the last decade, has a Test average in the mid 40s as captain, is an astute tactician and exactly the kind of guy you would trust your daughter with. New Zealand would be a far better unit if the entire team was made up of players of Vettori's calibre. Better yet, if the team was made up entirely of Daniel Vettoris.

The timing is perfect to start making large scale personnel changes to the team. Iain O'Brien can no longer fulfill his duty since his decision to quit cricket to carve out a niche for himself, blogging into the wind. Oram and Bond may never play Test cricket again. And much of the current top order is due for a change. Vettori could solve New Zealand's opening conundrum, shore up the fragile middle order, provide a dependable tail, and then bowl himself from both ends from now until the end of time.

I know New Zealand Cricket have some sort of perverted fetish for keepers, having called on the services of Brendon McCullum, Gareth Hopkins, Peter McGlashan, Reece Young and BJ Watling in the past year and a bit. But in this team there would be no need for a keeper. More keepers means less Vettori. Less Vettori is bad for everyone.

Perhaps there might be space for Jesse Ryder, to provide some firepower at the top. But mainly to lead the drunken celebrations. And for Ross Taylor. Just to keep things a little ethnic. But be in no doubt. The Black Caps should be at least 80% Vettori.

I am by no means suggesting that the genius of Vettori be consigned to the cricketing realm. Vettori should be CEO of all New Zealand-based companies, Mayor of Hobbiton, the Governor General and both Prime Minister and all other 120 New Zealand MPs. Perhaps the country's economy would experience subtle changes of pace, but at least it would never be in danger of taking a dramatic turn. The government could even look into exporting Vettori. They would make a right killing.

Here's hoping that New Zealand Cricket do the sensible thing and pour all their funding into cloning research. The world would be a better place if we were all Daniel Vettori.

Andrew Fernando is a student at Auckland University

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