New Zealand cricket fans reacted with mild surprise yesterday to news that veteran left-arm spinner and former captain Daniel Vettori may be rushed into the lineup for the second Test against England at Headingley on Friday.
News of 34-year-old Vettori’s likely recall did little to lift the spirits of fans still digesting New Zealand’s dismissal for 68 in the second innings of first Test at Lord’s, which resulted in their defeat by 170 runs.
If he plays in Leeds on Friday, taking the role of specialist spinner from injured Bruce Martin, Vettori will be making his first Test appearance for 10 months. He played the last of his 112 Tests for New Zealand in the West Indies in July last year and has played little top-class cricket since then because of an ankle injury, making his Test call-up a considerable risk.
Vettori has joined the New Zealand team in London after traveling from India.
Off-spinner Jeetan Patel, who is currently playing for Warwickshire in England’s County Championship, is reportedly also being considered for a recall.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson told reporters he was confident that Vettori would be fit enough to play the second Test.
“He’s done plenty of bowling in the last couple of months ... albeit in the nets,” Hesson said. “He’s got through plenty of work, but it’s a matter of whether we think he’s going to be able to get through five days of a Test match. We won’t risk Dan for the sake of a Test, but in saying that it is an important Test match for us.”
The news of Vettori’s possible return caused only a few surprised comments by fans on New Zealand sports forums.
State broadcaster Television New Zealand reported the veteran’s return and news that wicketkeeper B.J. Watling’s knee injury is rapidly improving, hoping to lift the gloom hanging over the Black Caps, but fans’ reaction was muted and suggested it is unlikely that Vettori would make a major impact, despite his 360 Test wickets and his six centuries, mostly made batting at No. 8.