Daniel Vettori Biography
From the scholarly looking 18-year-old to the elder statesman of world cricket, it was a fascinating journey for Daniel Vettori.
There were changes on the way. The long locks fell away early, the boyish angularity of the cheeks was filled up with the heaviness of experience, the glasses too changed from the light metal frames to rather forbidding and wide spectacles, the chin started smooth, gradually sprouted outgrowth of stubble and with time changed into a rather serious beard.
The left arm spin picked up guile on the way to becoming one of the best in the world, the left-handed batting metamorphosed from handy tail-end to meaty middle-order, for a while nearly the best Test batsman of the country. The burdens of batting and bowling were enhanced with the mantle of captaincy, and the erstwhile teenaged stripling led the country with the same steely determination that was forever sheathed under his polite exterior. Injuries weighed him down, and the responsibility of selection was also thrust on his shoulders. He took all that in his stride, and then some more.
It would not be stretching it too far to say Daniel Vettori has been the most important Kiwi cricketer of the last two decades. And certainly the most understated in the world when weighed against his surprisingly colossal achievements.
He was the youngest New Zealander to play Test cricket, and then One Day cricket as well. Soon, he became the youngest spinner to 100 wickets. Gradually the drift became more pronounced; the spin and bounce more controlled and canny. If the first forays to the crease were accompanied by spirited endeavour but limited ability, technique and strokes were soon being added to his batting skills. He graduated into a batsman with a fantastic 137 against Pakistan. He celebrated his 200 wickets with an 82-ball century in the same Test match. He got Kumar Sangakkara caught at mid-wicket to complete the fantastic double of 3,000 runs and 300 wickets. In 2010, he became just the second Kiwi cricketer to appear in 100 Tests.
A collection of 4,531 runs at exactly 30 runs per innings and 362 wickets at 34.36, six hundreds and 20 five-wicket hauls in his 113 Tests. That places his unassuming self in the select bracket of some of the greatest all-rounders of all time. Only Kapil Dev and Ian Botham have scored more than 4,000 runs and captured more than 300 wickets.
He remains second only to Richard Hadlee in the impact he has left on the cricketing landscape of the lovely nation under the long white cloud. And without any semblance of doubt it makes him the greatest spinner produced by the country — ever.
With time the hamstring acted up, the back shut down, the Achilles rebelled. The career was derailed, tried to limp back only with partial success. It was pure determination which enabled him to play the 2015 World Cup, a key member in the side’s incredible march to the final.