- MITCHELL SANTNER (NEW ZEALAND)
The Black Caps have long been fascinated by Daniel Vettori- a spin bowling all-rounder of an exalted rank who served New Zealand with unparalleled efficacy in a career spanning 17 years.
Looked upon as the heir to Vettori’s glorious throne, Santner emerged as Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson’s trump card in the recently concluded ICC World T20, where he took 10 wickets at an impressive average of 11.4 and an economy rate of 6.27 in the spin-friendly Indian conditions. In the inaugural game of the Super Ten round in Nagpur, Santner bamboozled hosts India with his illusive left arm spin and ran through a sturdy Indian batting line-up and ended up finishing with figures of 4-0-11-14 besides scoring 18 runs (off 17 balls) in the first innings and thus helped his team successfully defend a relatively puny score of 126-7. He is no monk with the bat either, a fact which can be traced back to the fourth ODI of New Zealand’s away series against England in April last year where he hit leg-spinner Adil Rashid for 28 runs in one over which happens to be the second highest runs off one over ever posted in England. 24 year old Santner was the sole Kiwi player to be incorporated in ICC’s Team of the 2016 World T20. However his fellow teammate and leg spinner IshSodhi, who was snubbed by ICC’s jury panel for that elite team, was reluctant to compare him to the talismanic Vettori. In a press conference at the Eden Gardens prior to New Zealand’s Group 2 encounter of the World T20 against Bangladesh, Sodhi said, ‘’Vettori was a fantastic bowler in his own right, but I think he and Santner are completely different bowlers. Santner is being himself as much as he can at the moment and it’s working really well for him.’’ According to Sodhi, the key to Santner’s upsurge on the international scene lies in his ability to put a lot of wrist on the ball despite being a finger spinner.
The young all-rounder from Hamilton has all the ingredients to gain a strong foothold across all three formats of the game and it will not come as a surprise if he gives leading spin-bowling all-rounders like Shakib-Al-Hasan, RavindraJadeja and Glenn Maxwell a run for their money in the near future.