Tale of two Daniels reaches final chapter
Ouch! Can Dan Carter do it again?
"The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak."
There is a parallel situation between New Zealand's top summer and winter sports, and it involves two great players who are desperate to hold the former player tag at bay.
This is the story of the two Daniels.
Daniel Vettori is hoping to be fully fit for the 2015 Cricket World Cup in New Zealand. Dan Carter is hoping to be fully fit for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England. Both of these cases contain optimism and pessimism in equal measures and this is not without merit.
Both Vettori and Carter have been long serving players for their sides and their countries. Both have excellent records and both still have plenty to give to their sides.
But both are also finding themselves struggling to sync their minds and bodies as the dreaded Father Time has begun to catch up with them.
Vettori's last game for the Black Caps was during the Champions Trophy in England last year, and throughout that he had the look of a man in pain, hobbling after the ball in the field. He has been on the mend, playing Twenty20 cricket in the Caribbean, but the one day format will be a tougher challenge on the body. The other important factor is the limited threat of spin bowlers in New Zealand, which may also count in Vettori's favour.
Carter's situation is slightly different. He has been stop-start over several years. While he has rarely looked out of touch when he does make the field, his difficulty to even make it there must be counting against him.
His injuries in 2011 meant he had limited impact at the World Cup, and he did not play against England at the beginning of the year.
The other concern for Carter is that there are two young and ever-improving No 10s in Aaron Cruden and Beauden Barrett who are challenging the pecking order that Carter has long been perched at the top of.
The big question is whether the selectors of both sides would want to gamble on the fitness of these two players for these vital tournaments next year. The All Blacks will be hoping to become the first side to win three World Cups, and also prove that they can win the trophy outside of New Zealand with a side ranking among the all-time greats.
The Black Caps, meanwhile, have their best opportunity since 1992 to win the tournament as they are playing in friendly conditions. And their consistent improvement since last summer allows for heightened optimism.
If I was a selector, I would not have either in my initial squad. I would back the young players in Cruden and Barrett to perform throughout the World Cup. For the Black Caps, Nathan McCullum has done a fine job filling Vettori's shoes so I don't think the former captain will be missed too much there.
The other benefit of this is that, should injuries arise, these two players could then come in to the squad with points to prove, potentially at the crunch end of their respective World Cups. Having experience and proven talent in knockout matches would be much more valuable than during pool play, where they would be susceptible to early injuries.
These two Daniels are huge names in New Zealand sport and they have already performed time and again for their country. But despite their records, their talent and their commitment, is their desire to be part of another World Cup worth the potential risk to their bodies?
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