Vettori joins 300-wicket club
Daniel Vettori prised out the two wickets he needed to cross 300 Test victims on the first day of the second Test at the SSC. He reached the landmark in his 94th Test when, in his 16th over, Kumar Sangakkara attempted a slog-sweep and was caught at deep midwicket by Jacob Oram. Vettori now sits eighth on the list of players to have taken 300 wickets and scored 3000 runs.
At the end of the day's play he allowed himself the satisfaction of soaking it all in. "For a spin bowler from New Zealand, it's not something a lot of people would expect to happen," he said. "To play for that amount of time and to do so well is very special. It's difficult to be a frontline spinner in New Zealand, so to have longevity and to revel in some conditions means that I've had a pretty good career. I'd like to think I've stayed pretty constant."
Vettori was more pleased to have joined an elite group of allrounders. "To be up there with the four allrounders of the eighties is special," he said. "It's been an exclusive group and to think that you're one of only eight in that list is something I cherish."
It didn't take long for Vettori, who on Tuesday admitted he was itching to cross the landmark. He brought himself on in the 11th over, after New Zealand's new-ball pair bowled well but without luck, and struck with his second delivery. He tossed one up with that customary high-arm trajectory, got the ball to gently drift in towards Tharanga Paranavitana, and Ross Taylor at slip did the rest.
The landmark came when Vettori dismissed Sangakkara two balls after the Sri Lankan captain reached his half-century. Vettori and Sangakkara had battled all session and Sangakkara seemed to have finally stamped his authority with a couple of smashes over mid-on. But while attempting another he picked out to the sweeper.
There was no massive celebration from Vettori as his team-mates mobbed him. He received warm applause from the smidgen of a crowd, the loudest cheer coming from two small groups of New Zealand fans. Vettori smiled and raised his arms in celebration, then dropped his head as he slowly walked towards his team-mates.
New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan led the tributes for Vettori's achievement. "This is a huge honour for Dan - he can be rightfully proud of his record as a preeminent Test cricketer," Vaughan said. "To have achieved to the standard of players of the calibre of [Shaun] Pollock, [Ian] Botham and [Imran] Khan, for example, speaks volumes for Dan's ability with both ball and bat."
To claim 300 Test wickets is an achievement for any bowler but it is especially noteworthy for Vettori given the workload he's had to shoulder since making his debut against England in 1996-97. Vettori played his first Test at 18, the youngest to represent New Zealand, and has lugged the weight of his side almost since. He has rarely had support at the other end, be it from the fast bowlers ahead of him or from a quality support spinner. Of his 94 Tests, 45 have been at home often on unfriendly surfaces designed to hamper the longevity of spinners. Along the way he has fought back from serious stress-fractures that could have laid low less strong-willed bowlers.
Today Vettori bowled as he has for much of his career, sticking to the routine that made him New Zealand's second most prolific bowler, and well past the tally of the only other spinner from his country to take 100 Test wickets, John Bracewell. To the left-handed batsman he drifted the ball in and tried to get the slips involved as much as possible. To the right handed Tillakaratne Dilshan, habitually one to feast on spin, Vettori pushed the ball in quicker, at times operating on a line more prone to nagging stump-to-stump medium-pacers. He varied his flight to Mahela Jayawardene, clearing his throat when a straighter one hit the batsman as he went back. The wicket of Sangakkara was reward for perseverance in the face of adversity, a microcosm of Vettori's career.
Click here for the full list of players with the double of 300 wickets and 3000 runs.
Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo