Daniel Vettori turns 38 today! © Getty Images
Daniel Vettori turns 38 today! © Getty Images

Eden Park in Auckland was filled with a tensed atmosphere and the pressure did ease when Daniel Vettori carved Dale Steyn behind the boundary. Yes, the Grant Elliott six off the penultimate ball in the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 will be remembered as long as the sport is played, but that Vettori boundary off the third ball was equally significant. The win was a fitting last game for Vettori at home soil and when Elliott hit that six. He did let out a rare show of emotion. The New Zealand’s World Cup semi-final jinx was broken. After spending years recuperating from injuries, Vettori made it to the World Cup and was instrumental in getting his side to the final, a game which unfortunately didn’t go their way. 

From a bespectacled teenager, who made his debut in the previous century, Vettori emerged as leader, coach, selector, all-rounder, and most successful left-arm spinner. As Shane Bond said, “He [Vettori] epitomises everything good about New Zealand cricket.” Suvajit Mustafi lists down 15 interesting facts about the Kiwi wizard who quit from international cricket:

1. Player of Italian descent

Daniel Vettori is the first player of Italian descent to represent New Zealand. He has an Italian father and Kiwi mother.

2. Hails from a sporting family

Daniel Vettori’s first cousin, is David Hill, a rugby union player who played a Test for the famous All Blacks. In fact, his uncle Tony Hill and cousin Joseph Hill, both played First-Class cricket.

3. Youngest to play for New Zealand

Daniel Vettori made his First-Class debut at the age of 17 against England in 1997 and Nasser Hussain was his first wicket. Three weeks later, he was barely 18 when he made his Test debut. He became New Zealand’s youngest cricketer to play Tests and ODIs.

4. “Harry Potter”

Daniel Vettori was called “Harry Potter” by fans because of his floppy hair and spectacles. Since he made his debut so young, his team-mates then called him “The Child.” Well, he did justify the name “Harry Potter”, not just with his looks but his wizardry on the field. Be it foxing with the ball, or wielding the bat or pulling off stunning catches, Vettori mastered them all.

5. Playing both-handed

Daniel Vettori could bat right, and left-handed, and could also bowl with both hands. This fact was confirmed by TV star Jeremy Wells, who attended school with Vettori and played with him for St Paul’s XI.

6. The reasons behind those spectacles

In an age of laser-surgery and contact lenses, spectacles aren’t a common sight especially for professional sportsman. However Daniel Vettori once confirmed to NZ Herald on why he prefers spectacles over contact lenses. “I’ve worn glasses since I was about three years old. I’m accustomed to them and they don’t bother me,” said Vettori. Adding a bit of humour, he added, “If I take them off, people recognise me a little less.”

7. Youngest spinner to claim 100 wickets

Picks up 12 wickets against the mighty Australia at Eden Park in 2000 and in process becomes the youngest spinner to claim 100 wickets in Tests. He was just 21.

8. From No 11 to an all-rounder

Daniel Vettori batted at No. 11 at the start of his career. But he improved as a batsman to be good enough to score six Test hundreds and have career batting average of 30.00

9. Most Test runs by a No. 8 batsman

The 2227 runs he scored at No. 8 is the most by any batsman in that position in Test history.

10. 300 wickets and 3000 runs in Tests

Daniel Vettori is the eighth player in Test cricket history to 300 wickets and score 3000 runs. He has 4531 Tests runs and 362 wickets, and was eyeing the elite 400 wickets and 4000 runs club which has Richard Hadlee and Kapil Dev in it, but frequent injuries in the recent years forced him out of the game.

11. Most wickets by a left-arm spinner

Daniel Vettori’s 362 wickets from 113 matches is the most captured by a left-arm spinner in Test history, way ahead of England’s Derek Underwood 297 from 86 matches.

12. Made his debut in the last century

He is one of the very few players surviving in international cricket who made their international debut in the last century.

13. Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Daniel Vettori was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2011 Queen’s Birthday Honours, for services to cricket.

14. Versatile sports professional

Daniel Vettori served as standby coach for a short while after Andy Moles was sacked. He was appointed as the national selector, when he was the captain in 2009. After playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) since 2011, Vettori now serves them as their Head coach.

15. ‘Team of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015’

Even at the twilight end and with injury prone body, Daniel Vettori was instrumental in New Zealand’s success in the World Cup 2015. In a batsman dominated tournament, Vettori was the most successful spinner, picking up 15 wickets from nine games at an average of 20.5 and an economy rate of four. Vettori was named in ‘Team of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.’

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully [Twitter] and rivu7 [Facebook].)