Tests more important than IPL says Vettori

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The Independent Online

The glitz, razzmatazz, cheerleaders, heat and, most importantly, money may be abundant in India but Daniel Vettori, the New Zealand captain and Delhi Daredevils all-rounder, would rather lead the Black Caps to victory in the coming three Test series against England than help his Franchise triumph in the Indian Premier League.

Vettori is one of five New Zealand players whose IPL commitments resulted in their late arrival in England and he, along with Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram, Kyle Mills and Ross Taylor will begin their preparations for the Test series, which starts at Lord's in two weeks time, in earnest today with a four day game against Essex in Chelmsford.

Vettori played in two of the Delhi Daredevils four matches before flying to England - only four of the eight overseas players signed by each franchise can play in any one game - and he has no regrets about leaving the tournament early, even though it will cost him a substantial sum of money. Players only get paid for the time they are available for selection.

"There are no mixed feelings about missing the decisive weeks of the IPL," admitted Vettori. "Winning a Test series here would give me greater satisfaction than winning the IPL. It's incredibly important to us, something we have not achieved all that often over here.

"My commitment has always been to New Zealand cricket, and this Test series is vitally important to us. We knew right from the start that we would only be there for a certain amount of games and that this Test series would take priority. With some of the guys, if you asked them sincerely, they may have wanted to sneak in another couple of games. But for me personally, I wanted to get over here to start our Test tour - because it is important we start well in the warm-up games."

Vettori's franchise contained Glenn McGrath, AB de Villiers, Mohammad Asif, Shoaib Malik and Tillekeratne Dilshan, former and current adversary’s from Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, yet he does not believe sharing a dressing room with these players will have a significant affect on rivalry when they resume playing international cricket. If anything, he sees these relationships improving the behaviour of players.

"You'll still play hard cricket, but I think a lot of situations will be defused," said Vettori. "I think problems will get sorted out a lot quicker. I don't think you'll ever see guys backing down in a Test match, but there will be a lot more understanding. I think it will soften though, you got to know guys more than you ever thought you would, as people."

It may have been wishful thinking but Vettori does not believe England will risk playing Andrew Flintoff at Lord's on 15 May. "I'm sure they'll take a cautious approach - slowly build them in to their team and look at the South Africa series. We understand how good a player he is and what balance he offers.

"We have the same luxury with Jacob (Oram); any time he's out of our team it is a real struggle for us. I'm sure England view it the same way. He's one of the better players in the world - so if he's not playing I suppose it makes it a little bit easier for us."

Vettori had limited influence during his time at the IPL but his vice-captain, Brendon McCullum, ensured the tournament got off to a thrilling start by smashing an unbeaten 158 for the Kolkata knight Riders in the opening match. England supporters are fully aware of how devastating McCullum's batting can be and the innings, in Indian eyes, turned him in to a superstar overnight. "I was probably flying a little bit under the radar leading up to the first game," admitted McCullum. "It picked up afterwards - although I then didn't get the performances I would have wanted. I was very nervous going in to that first game. But my contribution throughout the tournament was one I am proud of.

"We probably didn't realise how big the tournament and the following was going to be until we arrived over there. It was huge - and it continued to snowball. I'm sure we'll all look back on it as a pretty defining moment in terms of international cricket. Obviously playing at Chelmsford will be a come-down - not playing in front of 90,000 people. But there is important work to be done here."

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