Skilful, intelligent, flexible, inspiring, calm – all these adjectives go well with Daniel Vettori. The left-arm orthodox spinner from New Zealand, Vettori was one of those rare Kiwi cricketers who played the game for a long period of time, 17 years to be precise.
Born on January 27, 1979 in Auckland, Vettori made his debut for New Zealand in 1997 against England in a Test match. His Harry Potterish-look made him an instant hit among fans. Vettori’s strength lied in his wicket-to-wicket bowling and the beautiful loop and guile with which he bowled. He was pretty consistent with his speed and line of the delivery. He would pitch the ball at the same speed on the same area throughout the day of a Test match and yet not get bored or tired of it.
Vettori’s USP lied in his loop as well. The batsman used to get trapped in trying to launch a big shot on those loopy deliveries bowled by him. His height also gave him an advantage as a spinner. Although Vettori started off as a bowler, his batting improved with each passing day.
Apart from 362 Test wickets and 305 ODI wickets, Vettori amassed 4531 runs in Tests while making 2253 runs in ODIs. He was seen as the potential threat to Richard Hadlee’s tally of 431 Test wickets but his back injury did not let him surpass the legend. He had to settle for 362, still a big number, and retired in November of 2015 after playing his last Test match against Pakistan.
Vettori was inspirational as a captain too. He led New Zealand to the semi-final of the first T20I World Cup in South Africa. This was a period when New Zealand was hit by the rebellious Indian Cricket League. Many present cricketers from the New Zealand team had joined hands with ICL and this had added extra responsibility on him. He became a selector of the team while playing for the national side.
Vettori bid goodbye to international cricket after the 2015 ODI World Cup after playing the final against Australia in Melbourne.