Monday, November 9, 2009

Surgeon to rule on Vettori's season

New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori will see a surgeon on his return from the United Arab Emirates as he battles a chronic shoulder injury.

In news that should send a shudder down the spine of every cricket fan in the country, Vettori's problem shoulder is his bowling arm.

Vettori, 30, captained New Zealand overnight in the third one-day international against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi and was unable to discuss the injury, but a New Zealand Cricket spokesman confirmed it was being closely monitored.

When the injury flared up this winter and continued through the Champions Trophy in South Africa, it was feared Vettori would require an operation that would require him to miss a significant chunk of the New Zealand summer.

Those fears have been somewhat alleviated.

"Dan's shoulder came through the Champions Trophy better than expected," said the spokesman. "We are not anticipating he will miss any international cricket this summer.

"It is more than likely he will see a surgeon when he returns but at this point, if any work has to be done, we anticipate that it will be at the end of the summer or even at the end of the world Twenty20 champs.

"We're trying to manage [the injury] as best we can."

That tournament takes place in the West Indies in April and May.

NZC and Vettori have every reason to hope that his shoulder bears up under the strain. With coach Andy Moles resignation last month, Vettori's already bulging portfolio of responsibilities increased further.

He is captain, selector, allrounder and surrogate coach.

If the worst-case scenario comes true and Vettori is advised to either have surgery or rest his shoulder, the selectors will have an interesting conundrum as to who to appoint as captain.

NZC divested Brendon McCullum of the vice-captaincy duties before the trip to the United Arab Emirates, telling him to concentrate on his responsibilities behind the stumps and with the bat.

He responded with his best one-day innings for New Zealand, a run-a-ball 131 in Saturday's second ODI.

McCullum would remain the frontrunner to take over in the absence of Vettori though, ironically, his return to form might work against him. The selectors might now be convinced he is better off without the added burden of leadership.

That would leave Ross Taylor as the only other viable option who plays across three formats of the game.

At 25, Taylor has been earmarked as a captain of the future, but there would be a reluctance to pitch him into that role before he fulfilled his world-class potential as a batsman.

"Certainly no decision has been made on who might captain in the absence of Dan," the NZC spokesman said. "There are a number of senior players who are willing to step up."

The official NZC line on McCullum's demotion was that the selectors were keen to increase the leadership skills in the New Zealand squad, rather than placing the burden in the hands of just two players.

If Vettori's bung shoulder gives out, they could find out soon enough whether that strategy has been successful.


* Daniel Vettori made his debut for New Zealand in February, 1997.
* He has played 94 tests, 248 ODIs and 18 T20 internationals.
* This year he has bowled 2664 legitimate deliveries for his country, well down on the 4326 he delivered in 2008.

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