Wednesday 26 November 2014

Is Daniel Vettori a good selection?

I've been asked by a few people what I think about picking Daniel Vettori for the 3rd test in Sharjah. So I've pulled some numbers from overseas tests (as performances in New Zealand conditions are fairly close to being irrelevant in Sharjah).

Firstly Vettori is quite different from most spinners. He takes more wickets in the first innings than he does in the second innings. This is partially because he relies more on bounce than turn, so he gets more assistance in the first innings than he does later on.

Also, his numbers away from home are better than I realised recently, but also he's not played many tests. In the past 5 years, he's only played 6 away tests, and 3 of them were in 2010. However in all 6 tests he's taken more wickets in the first innings than in the second.

During that time, however, despite only playing in 6 matches, he's taken more wickets at a better average than any other New Zealand spinner (not counting Ross Taylor's 2 wickets for 34 runs). Ish Sodhi, Mark Craig and Kane Williamson all have better strike rates, but because Vettori bowls so economically, he ends up with a better average.

This is also a big advantage when New Zealand are needing to get to the new ball (which they definitely need to do in UAE, the old ball is useless for both quicks and spinners). He can get through those overs without costing too many runs. This was the role that McCullum took on for himself in the first two tests.

This was also useful when the team is under pressure. In the game that he played at Antigua, Chris Gayle was in a destructive mood. West Indies were already on 96 when Vettori came to the crease in the 21st over. Vettori bowled the next 16 overs from that end for only 26 runs. While he didn't pick up Gayle, he did get him to inside edge just past his stumps twice.

Another interesting thing has happened as a result of Vettori's bowling: when he's played New Zealand won about as often overseas (20% vs 22%) but have lost a lot less often. As a result with Vettori NZ averages 0.46 wins / loss overseas, as opposed to 0.38 without him overseas.

It's certainly an interesting selection, and one that could work quite well.

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