Cricket: Vettori spinning in the wind

By David Leggat

Daniel Vettori. Photo / Getty Images
Daniel Vettori. Photo / Getty Images

Two days out from the third and series-deciding test against South Africa and Dan Vettori already knew what was in store for him at the Basin Reserve.

Wellington means wind - hopefully not all the time, but bank on it for part of the match - and that means someone has to bowl into it.

The veteran left-arm spinner knows he's unlikely to have the breeze at his back.

"You can attack from one end with the fast bowlers coming down wind into the wicket that will probably assist them, and my role will be a holding role to help them out as much as possible," he said yesterday.

Vettori, preparing for his 110th test and with 357 wickets at 33 runs apiece to his credit, appreciates the significance of his 21st five-dayer on the iconic Wellington ground starting tomorrow.

The seven-run win over Australia at Hobart in December gave New Zealand a real buzz. World No 2 South Africa are threatening to make that a distant memory, holding a 1-0 series lead.

"It's pretty influential on our summer," he said. "If we can scrap back then overall it's been a very successful summer.

"If not, I think we'll be remembered for that loss, and it's important the guys understand that. This is an opportunity to do it again."

"That loss" was in Hamilton last weekend, when eighth-ranked New Zealand were swept aside by nine wickets in less than three days.

Despite some impressive periods, too much of the batting was embarrassingly poor, giving the generally effective bowling attack too little to work with.

New Zealand needed to win in Hobart to square that series against the Australians after being battered inside four days. The parallel is obvious.

With the likelihood that New Zealand will take a sixth specialist batsmen into the test - no longer can they rely on five getting anywhere near sufficient runs - it leaves a three-pronged seam attack of, almost certainly, Chris Martin, Mark Gillespie and Doug Bracewell, supplemented by Vettori and a spot of filling-in from occasional medium pacer Dean Brownlie.

Vettori pointed out the fourth seamer had made a small contribution in the first two tests. In fact Tim Southee and Brent Arnel had combined analysis from those matches of 48-7-204-0.

"It just puts more onus on the four guys who've got the job," Vettori said.

Former captain Vettori denied he had changed his bowling philosophy; rather it's a case of doing the job expected of him by captain Ross Taylor and coach John Wright. If that means keeping things quiet, so be it.

South Africa enjoyed a couple of unexpected days off early this week too, after their Hamilton handiwork.

But any notion that they feel a sense of superiority over their hosts was played down by tall pace ace Morne Morkel yesterday.

"I wouldn't say that," he said. "It's not that we think we are better than them.

"It's important to respect the team and players you play against. But we have a lot of momentum going for us and a lot of confidence."

The South Africans are anticipating wind. So who draws the short straw into the breeze, world No 1-ranked Dale Steyn, a genuine quick bowler; wicket-taking wizard Vernon Philander, who has taken 15 in the two tests, or tall, bouncy Morkel?

"Obviously it's going to be a bit of a rock, paper, scissors between the fast bowlers," he quipped. "It's not about individualism, it's just about what's best for the team."

- NZ Herald

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