Brendon McCullum will lead New Zealand in the third Test against Pakistan © Getty Images
Brendon McCullum will lead New Zealand in the third Test against Pakistan © Getty Images

Sharjah: Nov 25, 2014

New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum is excited at the prospect of veteran left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori‘s return to Test cricket in the third and final Test against Pakistan in Sharjah on Wednesday. The 35-year-old spinner was surprisingly added to the Test squad to bolster New Zealand’s chances of levelling the series they trail 1-0 after losing the first Test and drawing the second. Vettori played last of his 112 Tests (111 for New Zealand and one for ICC World XI) in July 2012 and had all but ended his Test career due to persistent injury problems.

McCullum said it would be an achievement for Vettori to become the most-capped New Zealand player. “We are really excited about his return,” McCullum said Tuesday. “He is the most capped player with Stephen Fleming and it is a tremendous achievement over which all are proud off.” Vettori will overtake Fleming who also played 111 Tests for New Zealand.

McCullum said Vettori will also be part of the one-day series which follows the Test. “It is a one-off Test situation for him as he was over here preparing for the one-dayers. We think using three spinners and Dane being the third one, the workload might not be overly excessive. With the  World Cup around we don’t want to break him in a one-off Test match situation and we think we can certainly manage,” said McCullum.

Vettor will replace out of form all-rounder Jimmy Neesham from the second Test XI with the other two spinners — Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig — retained. This will be the sixth time New Zealand enter a Test with three spinners in the last 30 years, losing five of those Tests and drawing one.

McCullum said the plan to play Vettori was well debated. “We spoke to Dan earlier in the tour. The wickets over here are so suited to spin bowling. So considering the fact it has been very hard on the bowlers, we looked at perhaps the balance of the team and we decided that a spinning all-rounder will also be handy at No.6 position. After seeing how fit and strong he is, which is another important point because his fitness is at a level where he feels comfortable he can operate in this Test match, and obviously the enthusiasm which he brings to the group and experience as well is great.”

McCullum added, “Dan is an optimist as well and he is excited about the opportunity and I am sure he will be a bit nervous as it is couple of years since he donned the black cap but he is a wonderful player. Even if it’s maybe his last one and it will be great fun to play and go out on his terms and rather than slide out of his wonderful Test career.”