New Zealand great Daniel Vettori will finish his magnificent cricketing career at the 2015 Caribbean Premier League when he represents the Jamaica Tallawahs.
The 36-year-old, who will go down as one of the greatest spin bowlers of all time, retires after the CPL, and he hopes to bow out of playing the sport he loves by getting his hands on the trophy.
We caught up with Daniel to find out how excited he is by his swansong at the Biggest Party In Sport…
Q How much are you looking forward to the CPL this year?
A I am looking forward to it a lot, I had a lot of fun and really enjoyed the tournament last year. I thought it was done exceptionally well. I’ve said to a few people it’s one of the few T20 tournaments that bowlers have really thrived in. That’s what I really enjoyed last year – as a bowler you can actually contribute to the game and I think that’s because the wickets at times offered a bit of assistance. It was a lot of fun last year and I’m looking forward to contributing again for Jamaica.
Q Spinners have prospered in the CPL – is that different to other T20 tournaments?
A You saw a lot of spinners actually spin the ball quite a bit throughout the tournament. The nature of the wickets emboldened the spin bowlers to be a bit more adventurous and try to be a it more aggressive and it seemed to work. Myself and Nikita Miller worked really well in tandem last and you saw Samuel Badree and Sunil Narine be near the top of the wickets and economy rates so that bodes well for this year hopefully.
Q How does the CPL differ to other tournaments?
A Jamaica is a unique team last year in that all our local players were actually from Jamaica. You’re actually playing for a country, the four foreign guys walked into a team that had real nationalistic pride about it and we fell into that really quickly and really enjoyed being part of that. You don’t often get that in T20 teams around the world because generally you are playing for domestic sides and they are made up from players from all over that country. For our team, personally, it felt like we were playing for Jamaica and trying to do really well for them. That’s one of the main attractions to come back this year and do well for them.
Q They call it the biggest sport – is that true?
A Like most tournaments round the world you come together with some guys you’ve never met before and sometimes the easiest way to get to know guys is to go out and have a bit of a good time with them. That’s certainly the way the tournament felt – the guys were desperate to do well but they were also wanted to enjoy themselves as well.
Q You got the semis last year – have you got the squad to go one better?
A We started so well last year and then we lost the last game – we could have been first but we ended up fourth and that really affected our chances of progress in the tournament so I don’t think we want to put ourselves in that situation again. The team is a really strong one and if anything it’s improved with the additions of Mahela Jayawardena, Chris Lynn and Krishmar Santokie. There’s some expectations on the side to do well.
Q What’s it like playing in a side led by Chris Gayle?
A I’ve played with Chris for a number of years in the IPL so I’ve been round him for a long time and probably people misinterpret him around his desire to do well – he’s desperate to perform and I think that rubs off on a lot of the guys as well. They have high expectations of their own performance and that’s led by Chris. It’s nice to walk into a team where he’s so determined to win and I think everyone follows that attitude.
Q He calls himself the World Boss – is that a justified title do you think?!
A I think he’s obviously got a pretty impressive social media campaign going on but he’s a pretty relaxed guy around us. He’s enjoyable company. All my dealings with Chris haven’t involved the World Boss they’ve just involved Chris.
Q Andre Russell is in there too – he had a brilliant IPL – how good is he?
A He had an amazing tournament for us last year as well. I think that was probably the start of this upward curve he’s had for this last 18-months when he’s been one of the best all-rounders in world cricket and T20 cricket and one of the most reliable. You’d be hard pressed to find a more dangerous batsman around, particularly his bowling in the Caribbean can be a huge asset, coupled with the fact you can put him in the top three or four best fielders in the world as well. It’s a package that not many people can bring to that table and that’s why he’s one of the best players going around.
Q How big a deal is CPL in New Zealand given there are a few Kiwis involved?
A I think people keep an eye on it but the time zones do make it difficult to follow. It’s growing in people’s popularity and people’s cricketing landscape. I think they put it all together with tournaments around the world and want to keep an interest in how guys are going. The more New Zealand guys that play will only advance that, we’ve got a few this year so and hopefully it will continue.
Q How has spin evolved since the introduction of T20?
A I think you quickly learnt that batsman are going to be as aggressive as possible and you had to find a way to counter that. I think that’s what the good spin bowlers have done – they’ve found ways to stop batsman and that’s why spin bowling has been so successful in T20. The spin bowlers have adapted so quickly and realised they’ve got a big part to play. While you may bowl defensively, normally most spinners are trying to be aggressive and take wickets during those middle stages.
Q How long can you play for? Brad Hogg?!
A This is my last playing commitment – it’ll be a really nice way to finish up to be back with the Jamaican team and hopefully be successful. I retired from everything after the World Cup and this was on the radar and I had a lot of fun last year so I thought it’d be a great way to finish up and get a chance to play in the CPL again.
Q Has T20 changed the game drastically – even England are playing a dynamic brand of cricket now?!
A I don’t think you’ve got a choice these days. Every team’s just going out there and, not necessarily whacking it, but trying to play an aggressive form of cricket and you can get left behind. Every team wants to play that way and you find the players that can fit into that. If you look round the world that’s what every good team is buying into.
Story and photo courtesy of www.cplt20.com