Last week a cricketer retired. This happens all the time.

Some go when it's not what people expect - or when, as the old, somewhat trite, advice goes, people are still asking 'why?' instead of 'why not?' - others go when they have no choice, when thier virtues are starting to be forgotten as a result of their inability to face up to the future. You could perhaps put Ricky Ponting in the first category, and Sachin Tendulkar in the second, although Ponting had his share of moments when the leaving became inevitable. Even now, with years having passed, the vision persists of him face forward in the Adelaide dirt, his stumps rearranged by another ageing great. When things like that happen, retirement is the only way to go.

As in so many things, Daniel Vettori didn't fit any of the obvious templates. Over recent years, as injuries took their toll on a body that had spent half its time on earth playing international cricket, you could be forgiven for thinking that he'd slipped away quietly. As New Zealand's cricket has been transformed over the last few years, the days when he was the fulcrum of a struggling side have faded into the background, but the closing weeks of his career, with all that they meant for New Zealand as a cricket country, were a fitting and memorable way to go.

As with Ponting and anyone else, visions will persist. In Vettori's case, from his very last weeks it will be the sight of him jumping off the ground with perfect timing and catching a ball with his left hand as it heads inexorably for the Cake Tin crowd, but this, brilliant and remarkable as it was, will never capture the essence of a cricketer, who, in New Zealand terms, ranks with the very best.

No, with Vettori the sights to fix in the mind's eye include that of a gangling, floppy-haired teenager with long hair taking his first steps in international cricket against England in 1997. This is about how long his career was: the grainy video on YouTube, with the England of Caddick, Croft and Tufnell in their MCC sweaters against the New Zealand of Blair Pocock and Heath Davis, fixes the match in an era that might as well be prehistoric. Then there is Vettori the batsman, bottom-handed, rigid, consistently looking overmatched, but counter-intuitively capable, with all the temperamental soundness, courage and timing you could want. And Vettori the bowler, with the perfect pivot, the control of flight and pace, the under-recognized subtlety. 4,000 Test runs at 30 and 362 wickets say that he could play, really play.

But perhaps most of all, the thing to take away is that, as Brydon Coverdale said last week in a fine distillation of his career, 'soft-spoken and unfailingly polite, Vettori is the very essence of what New Zealand cricket has become'. In the immature and mean-spirited universe occupied by Brad Haddin and his apologists, virtues such as playing the game in the right spirit count for little. Success justifies everything. The New Zealand which goes on from here - not the New Zealand of Vettori, but the New Zealand of McCullum, of Boult, of Guptill, of Southee, of BJ Watling - will, I am sure, continue to show that playing the game with passion and with flair does not have to mean playing with disrespect.

Perhaps it is a failing in me, perhaps it is the effect of getting older and growing softer, but I hate, really hate, what Haddin did. This is not a partisan issue. I detest Jimmy Anderson's tedious, shallow, false, aggression too.

For Vettori's virtues, read New Zealand's. International cricket need not be a war zone. There are enough of those around the world already.

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