Black Caps Captain Daniel Vettori In Focus - Part One

Cricket World's Aaron Kumar looks back at New Zealand's recent matches with England by focusing on the captain of the Black Caps, Daniel Vettori, and his career. Part two follows tomorrow... When Daniel Vettori made his Test debut as an 18-year-old against England in February 1997, few would have predicted that a decade later the New Zealander would become one of the best left-arm spinners in world cricket and the third most successful bowler in his country's history. The left-hander began his career as a number eleven batsman, but over the years his batting has improved to such an extent that he is now widely regarded as one of the best lower order batsmen in world cricket. Vettori has troubled batsmen the world over with his nagging accuracy. Vettori’s success was rewarded as he was chosen to represent the World XI side to take on World Champions Australia, in three ODI and a Test in late 2005. Vettori continued to have a great deal of success in the international arena with both bat and ball and following New Zealand’s defeat in the 2007 World Cup Semi-Final to Sri Lanka, Stephen Fleming, who was the most capped ODI captain in the history of the game, announced that he was resigning as captain of New Zealand’s One Day team. After Fleming’s announcement, Vettori was named as New Zealand’s ODI captain and he led his team at the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup, where they reached the Semi-Finals. When Stephen Fleming made the announcement that he was stepping down as One Day skipper, it was expected that the veteran would continue to lead his country in the longer form of the game. However, in September 2007 it was announced that Vettori would lead New Zealand in Test cricket as well as the shorter forms of the game. Vettori endured a tough baptism to Test captaincy. New Zealand went to South Africa and were crushed two nil. The Kiwis also lost the One Day series at the hands of Graeme Smith’s South Africa. After that disappointing tour to South Africa, New Zealand prepared to host England in an eagerly-awaited contest An ankle injury sustained in training ruled Vettori out of the opening two games of the series - both were Twenty20 encounters. Vice-captain Brendon McCullum was the acting skipper in those two fixtures. New Zealand were clearly missing Vettori’s accurate bowling and aggressive lower order batting, as England won both matches convincingly (by the margins of 32 and 50 runs). The five match ODI series followed, and Vettori was set to return to lead his team. Even though New Zealand were ranked third in the ODI rankings, there was a widespread feeling that the hosts would struggle against an England team who appeared to be resurgent in One Day cricket. Any thoughts that New Zealand would struggle against the tourists were quickly laid to rest, as the Kiwis turned in a very clinical display to defeat England by six wickets. A disciplined bowling effort coupled with some excellent fielding saw England bowled out for just 130, a really disappointing total for Paul Collingwood’s men given that at one stage they were 34 without loss. McCullum then scored 42 at a run a ball to ensure that New Zealand reached their target, with exactly 20 overs to spare. The second ODI saw New Zealand win by an even more convincing margin. England batted first and were bowled out for a below par 158, despite a well made 53 by Alastair Cook. New Zealand made a mockery of their victory target as McCullum smashed 80 from 47 balls, and Jesse Ryder 79 from 62 balls. It took the New Zealand openers just 18.1 overs to record the ten-wicket victory. England were able to win a rain affected third ODI; Stuart Broad was the pick of the bowlers for England, with figures of three for 32 from his allotted ten overs. New Zealand were restricted to 234 for nine as Jacob Oram top scored for the Kiwis with 88. England then knocked off their adjusted victory target with relative ease, Ian Bell top scoring with 73 as the tourists were victorious by six wickets. The fourth game of the series was without doubt the best one. Vettori won the toss and elected to field first but it was England that were very quickly in the ascendancy as openers Cook (69) and Phil Mustard (83) shared a partnership of 158 which laid the platform for England to post a mammoth total of 340 for six. England must have been feeling very confident about their chances of levelling the series, at the halfway stage of the game, but a splendid innings of 139 by Jamie How put New Zealand on course for a famous victory. However How fell in the last over of the game and needing two to win off the last ball, the hosts could only manage a single and the game ended as a tie. New Zealand sealed the ODI series by three matches to one when they completed a rain affected four wicket victory against England at Christchurch. Despite New Zealand’s triumph in the ODI series, it was expected that England’s superior Test ranking would be evident in the three match Test series. New Zealand stunned England in the first Test by recording a comprehensive 189-run victory, Ross Taylor (120) and Vettori himself (88) starred with the bat, while Kyle Mills bowling in the second innings (four for 16) helped bowl out England for 110 and seal the victory for New Zealand. Stung by their surprise defeat in the first Test, England hit back with immediate effect in the Second Test in Wellington. Tim Ambrose (102) in just his second Test, laid the foundations for England to post a competitive total. Indeed England were able to gain a first innings lead of 144 when they bowled out New Zealand for 198. Vettori was left stranded on 50 not out. James Anderson picked up five for 73 and England went on to win the game by 126 runs and level the series. England completed a remarkable turnaround and a rare Test series win abroad, when they defeated New Zealand in the third and final Test by 121 runs. Kevin Pietersen (129) in the first innings, and Andrew Strauss (177) in the second put England into a position of authority and although Tin Southee did have a dream Test debut, claiming five for 55 and scoring 77 from 40 balls, it was not enough to prevent England from claiming a series victory. After a hard fought series, Vettori would have been very happy with the character his team showed in winning the ODI series. However, the way his inexperienced team fell away so dramatically after winning the first Test would have been seen as a cause for concern. Just a couple months later Vettori and his team would have the opportunity to right the wrongs of this series as the two sides were to meet again in England. Aaron Kumar © Cricket World 2008