The match was heading for a tight finish, when Vettori accidentally collided with the non-striker Malcolm Waller during his follow-through. The clash hindered Waller from taking a single, and by that time the striker Regis Chakabva was too far down the track to get back. Though the wicketkeeper Reece Young took off the bails, Vettori immediately indicated that he had blocked Waller, and New Zealand decided to not appeal for Chakabva's wicket.
"It was the right thing to do at the time and we as a team try and play with the right spirit of cricket," Vettori said after receiving the award in Colombo. "It's hard to define the spirit of cricket, but go out on the field with the general mindset to play the game in the right way and always in the right frame of mind."
Vettori's gesture earned him the award ahead of Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez and the South African pair of Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers. MS Dhoni had taken the award last year, for recalling Ian Bell after a controversial run-out during the Trent Bridge Test.