The Harry Potter of cricket packs his wand (The Express Tribune (Pakistan))

The youngest debutant in both Tests and ODIs for the Kiwis, Daniel Vettori seems to have been bowling his left-arm drifters since the current generation learned to differentiate a bat from a ball.
Coupled with a handy ability with the bat lower down the order, Vettori has been probing batsmen with his line and length, along with speed and flight variations, since 1997. His first-ever international wicket came on debut when he dismissed former England skipper Nasser Hussain set on 64 it was just a sign of things to come.
His general appearance rim-less glasses and frizzy hair was a striking factor for the fans of the game when he walked into the limelight. He joined a distinctive league of spectacle-bearers which included West Indies’ Clive Lloyd, English Percy Fender and New Zealand’s Walter Hadlee (father of Sir Richard Hadlee) to name a few of the most popular ones.
Such was his charisma that the famous English cricket fan group ‘Barmy Army’ named him in one their songs as ‘Harry Potter in disguise’. A fitting moniker as his wizardry with both the ball and sometimes with the bat requires no introduction. He is the third player after Kapil Dev and Sir Ian Botham to have bagged 300 Test wickets and scored 4,000 runs at the same time.
He is famous as a bowling ordeal for the Australians with 66 wickets to his name in 19 five-day outings, the most by him against any Test playing nation, at an average of 36.68 runs per wicket and a strike rate of 75.6 balls per wicket. When it comes to ODIs, his record states the same command over the Aussies. He has accounted for the Australian batsmen 55 times in 59 matches, most against any country in the ODIs as well, with an average of 40.70 and a strike rate of 58.3.
Vettori’s prolific career would have attracted more accolades if injuries did not mar his path to outright omnipotence with the ball. Three years into his career, he suffered stress fractures in his back in 2000 which sidelined him for several months a plight that was to follow him for the rest of his career. But the next highlight of his career was not with the ball but because of his willow-wielding abilities down the order. He scored his first Test century against Pakistan in 2003, an unbeaten 137 in Hamilton.
In 2004, he took 20 wickets in a two-Test series against Bangladesh to earmark his magnificence with the ball and the result was a player of the year award in New Zealand a title he won again in 2006.
He was then trusted to hold the reins as captain in the 2007 World Twenty20 after Stephen Fleming gave up his limited-overs career and led the team to the semis where they lost to Pakistan. He was chosen to lead for a long period and was given voting right in the team selection after he was given an additional post of national selector. In 2012, his Achilles tendon gave up on him and for all intents and purposes, it seemed like the end of the road for him.
Two years after he has hanged up his boots, Brendon McCullum called him back for one last moment of glory one final hurrah and a fitting goodbye. In the series against Pakistan in the UAE, New Zealand were trailing 1-0 and his presence in the side for the third Test made a huge difference. The Kiwis came back and drew the series 1-1 and it was then that McCullum knew that this ace up his sleeves could help him bring home the World Cup.
The ‘Dan’ of cricket, one of the six players to have featured for the World XI in all three ODIs and the Super Test against Australia in 2005, ended his on-field days with the following words, “It [the final] was my last game for New Zealand, so it was a lovely way to finish. Obviously it would’ve been great to win but I’m really proud of everyone and the way we’ve gone about things the last six weeks.”
A lovely way to finish indeed six weeks and an 18-year long journey that should never be forgot.
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