Vettori confirms Windies series a bridge too far

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 26/11/2013
Daniel Vettori
Getty Images
INJURY PRONE: Daniel Vettori is on the comeback trail.

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Daniel Vettori's rapid recovery from Achilles tendon surgery has complicated matters, but he still feels nowhere near ready to return to test cricket.

Vettori confirmed last night he'd turned down overtures from the national selectors and was unavailable for the West Indies series which starts with the first test in Dunedin next Tuesday. That was despite an impressive return for Northern Districts this past month and an admission he's well ahead of schedule in his recovery from surgery in June.

New Zealand's second-highest test wicket-taker is unwilling to commit to a return date and his international career remains in limbo. He will stick with plan A, which is to continue with the Knights then rejoin Brisbane Heat in the Australian Twenty20 Big Bash for year two of his three-year contract, starting on December 22.

"I honestly don't believe I'm ready physically and after talking to [coach] Mike Hesson and New Zealand Cricket, they don't believe it either," Vettori said.

Vettori's six-wicket haul against Auckland in his comeback Plunket Shield match for Northern, then some excellent spells in four T20 matches, prompted national selector Bruce Edgar to say that Vettori would be "seriously considered" for the West Indies if he felt ready.

Vettori, who has 360 wickets from 112 tests, will play his second first-class match in 15 months against Central Districts in Hamilton today.

He turned down an NZC contract in July because he thought injury would rule him out for most of the season, and he remains a free agent.

"My original plan was to play a few T20s here and in Aussie and hopefully that would build up the intensity and then have a look later in the summer. That's still the plan."

Vettori said his Achilles felt great, but the rest of his 34-year-old body was the worry and needed plenty more overs to get back in shape.

The first test against India starts in Auckland on February 6, around the time of the Big Bash playoffs. T20 is much easier on the body, but Vettori still hoped to return to his favourite format, test cricket, which he hadn't played since August 2012.

"I've still got a lot of good friends in the team and I've been really impressed with Hess. Because they were so accommodating towards me in England, playing on half a leg, I feel like I owe them for that sort of loyalty.

"And you never want to be viewed as a mercenary. The favourite thing I've ever done is playing for New Zealand and that'll never disappear."

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A fair chunk of the test squad play in Hamilton today, including Ross Taylor (knee) and Corey Anderson (ribs). Taylor is making good progress while Anderson is being nursed back and will play as a batsman only in the hope of being fit to bowl in Dunedin.

- Fairfax Media

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