This post, I should mention before anything else, was inspired by his innings of 70 off 49 in the 2nd ODI against Australia. He very nearly took them to victory before being the last man out with just 12 required from 10 balls.
I suppose this is something that everyone knows by now. However, I was inspired to write this post mainly due to the glint I saw in his eye when watching the highlights of that match (more specifically, his innings).
There was determination in those eyes. Those specs, along with the gruffy beard, might fool someone into thinking that Dan Vettori is someone who’s been in the game for 15 or so years, someone who has been carrying the burden of a team, nay, a sport, for all these years.
However, what those eyes don’t reveal to the ordinary person is the fact that he’s become the person he is just about 3 years ago.
I’m not coming to say that he was reckless before, drinking his way to stardom or anything like that. Instead, he was just a boring slow left arm bowler who plugged one end and took a fair number of wickets.
However, since he was handed the captaincy, first for the limited over teams in May ’07 and then for the tests in mid ’08, my respect for him has grown by leaps and bounds.
It’s hard for a captain when he is flooded in a sea of mediocrity. Andy Flower and Brian Lara have plenty of experience.
However, to actually become extremely proficient in batting while being the best bowler and the skipper of the team takes a lot of bloody-minded determination.
His batting has improved to such an extent that bowlers around the world are no longer willing to take it easy when they’ve got the 6th NZ wicket. Instead, they realize that the best is to come as the bearded sage with specs walks in.
Neither does he come in with a strut, nor does he do his whole exercise regime from the dressing room to the middle.
Instead, his walk to the crease is reminiscent of the kid who was called in to play for the street cricket team just a couple of minutes ago and isn’t exactly sure what he’s doing here.
However, don’t let that walk fool you as this guy has guts and determination running in his every vein. He’s the player who somehow manages to keep New Zealand from going the way of West Indies.
It’s extremely depressing for any team when the skipper is the best bowler and the best batsman (despite there being batsmen in the side who’ve been born with a bat in their hand). Heath Streak will have plenty of words of consolation for Dan.
Late last year, he got a place on the selection panel and, for about 4 months, he was the unofficial coach when NZC was searching for a replacement for Andy Moles (who was clearly outclassed even in coaching by Vettori).
For all this, he’s just 31 years!
Hard to believe, but it’s just one of those instances where you think “Man, this guy’s been around for as long as I remember”. That sums up my state as I’ve been following cricket seriously only since 2003 (and leisurely since 1999).
Even before he made his debut as a precocious 18 year old in 1997, there had been talk in the shires that this was a talent to watch. For a country which has a small cricket base (due to the pre-dominant interest in rugby), any word of big talent can spread like wildfire. For a country which had already seen talented cricketers like the legendary all-rounders Sir Richard Hadlee, John R Reid and Chris Cairns, as well as amazing batsmen like Bert Sutcliffe and Martin Crowe, any talk of good talent is bound to be on the money!
It’s taken 10 long years for Dan Vettori to fulfill his potential, but it’s been worth the wait.
Hats off to you, Dan the Man!