Daniel Vettori can't do it all himself

BY DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 12:27 30/08/2009

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OPINION: It's probably too simplistic to say New Zealand cricket is a one-man show right now.

Then again it might not be.

Daniel Vettori's abilities with bat and ball and his increasing power away from the field of action make him the game's most powerful figure.

Let's face it, the guy is clearly the Black Caps' best bowler. It's a sad reality that despite operating in the lower middle order he's probably the side's best batsman as well.

On top of that he's been shouldering the captaincy duties full time for almost two years.

And now he's taken on the responsibility of being a national selector as well.

Which raises the questions: Is this good? Is this healthy? Should one man - and a player at that - have so much responsibility and is NZC burdening him with too much weight on his shoulders?

It's certainly a sad indictment on the rest of the team and perhaps the structure of the game at the very top in this country.

It's noble of Vettori to take on this sort of load - he's that sort of guy. Sheer class with the ball, a streetfighter with the bat, and a self-acknowledged student of the game who has grown tactically as a skipper.

They are abilities that draw nothing but respect from those around him - most importantly his team mates although far too few of them seem to take enough inspiration from Vettori's deeds.

The worry is those same team mates, his very friends, now have to think twice about the way Vettori views them. That added accountability might be a good thing for them given their under-achievements but I'm not so sure it's a necessary pressure for Vettori.

There's a real fear of burnout just as New Zealand's best player is operating in his prime.

Vettori has taken on an all-consuming cricketing life now that will be added to by draining selection meetings where he will be asked to make some very tough calls against people he rubs shoulders with almost daily. Guys he shares a beer and a joke with.

Sir Richard Hadlee, very much New Zealand's Mr Cricket during his long time at the top of the game in all capacities, recently wrote of his concerns about Vettori's predecessor as skipper, Stephen Fleming, having too much power - and Fleming wasn't even an official selector.

"We asked Stephen for his thoughts as often as possible but we felt he had a tendency to favour some players ahead of others, and could be reluctant to discuss or accept other points of view. Indeed at times he was almost dismissive of other points of view."

That's just human nature. Vettori's personality might be more rounded, his thoughts more objective. But there's no doubt he will be placed under similar pressures - they go with that selection job.

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Selectors tend to be a player's friend one moment and their executioner the next.

It's been a huge week for Vettori. He deserves glowing praise for joining the exclusive club of test cricketers who have taken 300 wickets and scored 3000 runs - a marvellous reflection of his skills but also an achievement that should inspire him towards the 400-4000 double.

But I'm reluctant to applaud the decision to put another massive load on his shoulders. I'd rather see him simply get on with the business on the field as he does so well.

- Stuff

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