Daniel Vettori last played a Test in 2012 © Getty Images
Daniel Vettori last played a Test in 2012 © Getty Images

Nov 25, 2014

Daniel Vettori is set to make a surprise return to Test cricket in the third match between New Zealand and Pakistan at Sharjah. The visitors are trailing 0-1 after managing to draw the second Test.

According to a report in nzherald.co.nz, New Zealand’s coach Mike Hesson said that there was “not a blade of grass” at the Sharjah track, and that the Kiwis would likely field three spinners in a bid to make full use of the conditions. The experienced spinner will join rookie leg-spinner Ish Sodhi and off-spinner Mark Craig in what will be a one-off Test appearance.

Hesson said, “We played a game here in Sharjah, saw the wicket we’re likely to play on and, with Dan being over here, the possibility of playing three spinners is one we couldn’t give up. We haven’t named our side but his [Vettori’s] experience and knowledge in these conditions, combined with the fact he’s fit and strong again will help.”

Vettori spoke about his possible role in the Test when he said, “I can’t guarantee the amount of overs to play a Test match and don’t want to get in way of Ish and Mark in their development. The World Cup’s the goal. Tests would put too much of a strain on the body at this stage of my career.”

According to AFP, a New Zealand Cricket release said, “The 35-year-old is already in the United Arab Emirates with the New Zealand ‘A’ team and trained with the Test squad ahead of the Test on Wednesday.” Hesson elaborated, saying, “From the first two Tests it’s been pretty clear how important spin is in these conditions and we expect the pitch in Sharjah to be the slowest of all three wickets. The possibility of having three bowlers who can exploit those conditions is an exciting option for us to have. Dan obviously has an incredible amount of experience and has shown how effective he can be in these sorts of conditions. It doesn’t mean that Dan will play in Tests for us in the future, but it’s a great opportunity to use him in this one-off unique situation.”

If he plays, Vettori will become the most-capped Kiwi of all time. He is currently tied at 111 Tests with Stephen Fleming. The left-handed all-rounder is one of only three players to have the double of 4,000 Test runs and 300 Test wickets, the other two being Ian Botham and Kapil Dev. This will be Vettori’s first and likely last appearance since he played the West Indies in July 2012 at Antigua.

With inputs from AFP.