T20 WC, Dan-the-everyman eyes exit

When Daniel Vettori leads New Zealand into the World Twenty20 it will start a long and calculated farewell across the world stage by New Zealand’s cricket figurehead.
While most of his contempories plot their exit by bowing out of Test play to spend their twilight years chasing the Twenty20 dollars, Vettori’s roadmap heads in the other direction.
One of only two cricket millionaires in New Zealand, along with Brendon McCullum, thanks primarily to playing Twenty20 in the Indian Premier League, Vettori will concentrate on the less lucrative but pure form of Test cricket.
His route to retirement will see him captain New Zealand in the West Indies and later in the year on tours of Bangladesh and India as well as the ODI World Cup in the sub-continent in 2011.
Then he will relinquish the captaincy to focus on being a Test all-rounder for four more years with the target of being the second player behind the great Kapil Dev to achieve the double of 400 Test wickets and 4,000 runs.
“I’ve always thought I’d play until I was about 35 and Test cricket is the part of the game that I want to persevere with,” said the 31-year-old Vettori who already has 325 wickets and 3,962 runs.
When compiling a list of the best in New Zealand cricket, almost every question in the modern era has the same answer – Daniel Vettori.
The bespectacled captain is pivotal in the New Zealand team as the best bowler, best all-rounder, arguably the best batsman, as well as being a selector and de facto coach.
He is “an inspiration to his team and to New Zealand cricket fans,” according to New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan.
Vettori’s Test goals were “a great endorsement of his character, but we don’t want him quitting one-day cricket any time soon,” said Vaughan, before adding: “Daniel is statistically aware and knows Test cricket is where you make your name as a player”.
Vettori’s international career began 13 years ago when he became New Zealand’s youngest Test player at the age of 18 years 10 days.
Although never considered a leading turner of the ball, his speed and flight variations have made him one of the most successful spinners with averages of 14.51 in Twenty20, 31.22 in ODIs and 33.86 in Tests.
He has also transformed himself from a gangly tailend batsman into a highly respected all-rounder who is a recognised number six with a Test batting average of 30.71.
To underscore how he relishes leadership, Vettori has batted at an average 44.07 in the 26 Tests since he replaced Fleming as captain in November 2007.
“I wasn’t comfortable with where my batting was at and I was disappointed with batting so low and my average and I wanted to turn that around,” he said on reaching 100 Tests against Australia last month.
“That’ll be one of my prouder achievements in those 100 Tests is being able to turn myself from a guy who started 11 to a genuine No 6.”

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2010