Sunday Star-Times

Mitch expands options as secret of the Santner Claw revealed

- MARK GEENTY

Now for Mitchell Santner’s next trick.

Having unveiled his mystery ball – the Santner Claw, if you will – the New Zealand left-arm spinner’s next task is trying to somehow disguise it from Australian and English batsmen next month.

Santner was captain Kane Williamson’s go-to man as Pakistan stormed back into the fifth one-day internatio­nal in Wellington on Friday, breaking the partnershi­p of Haris Sohail and Shadab Khan and ending with 3-40 in the Black Caps’ 15-run win, which saw them sweep the series 5-0.

In game four in Hamilton he bamboozled Fakhar Zaman with a carrom ball in the mould of India’s Ravichandr­an Ashwin and Sri Lanka’s Ajantha Mendis. Flicked out with the middle finger, in the same style used in the traditiona­l Indian carrom game, the ball spun the other way to Santner’s orthodox delivery and bowled Zaman.

There’s one problem now. Everyone knows about it, so the mystery ball somehow has to become mysterious again.

‘‘I’ve been trying it in the nets for a while now. It’s like a carrom ball, a similar grip to Ashwin. If the wicket suits I use it a little bit more,’’ Santner said. ‘‘But you guys have been analysing it quite a bit now so I might have to put it away . . . I might have to try and disguise it a bit more because every time I look up it’s on the big screen.’’

Santner doesn’t have a name for

I’ve been trying it in the nets for a while now. Mitchell Santner

his new delivery but said he wasn’t averse to Santner Claw. He watched Ashwin bowl his carrom ball against New Zealand in the 2016 test series and modelled his grip on the Indian offspinner’s.

‘‘I thought ‘that’s not a bad ball’ and thought I’d give it a crack. I used it in county cricket in some of the Twenty20 stuff over there. On a wicket that spins it’s a bit better because it’s hard to put a lot of revs on it because I’m just flicking it out.’’

For Santner, well establishe­d as New Zealand’s premier white ball bowler, it adds another element to his game on top of subtle changes of pace much in the mould of Daniel Vettori.

Legspinner­s like his T20 partner in crime Ish Sodhi have the googly that turns the other way, so now Santner has another bowling weapon to create doubt in the batsman’s mind.

After the three-match T20 series against Pakistan, starting at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium tomorrow, New Zealand take on Australia and England in a T20 triseries before five ODIs against England.

Santner watched some of the first two ODIs from Australia where a bullish England side took a 2-0 series lead. Having lost 3-2 in the 2015 series in England, then suffered defeat to the host nation at the Champions Trophy in June, there is a sense of unfinished business when they arrive next month.

‘‘They are a very good ODI side and so are Aussie. England come out very hot and go from ball one and look to continue. If we can get some wickets at the top and try to stem that run rate a little bit.’’

Tomorrow provides an opportunit­y for New Zealand to stretch their home winning sequence to 13 games across the formats, having won 12 straight at home against Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia last summer.

In familiar conditions England will provide the best gauge of where the Black Caps are at, but Santner still felt they had been sternly tested in recent weeks.

‘‘Pakistan are Champions Trophy winners and West Indies are T20 champions so we have come up against good sides. We have played pretty good cricket and the scoreline suggests we might have been all over them but I don’t think it was like that.’’

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Spinner Mitchell Santner has broadened his bowling weaponry.
GETTY IMAGES Spinner Mitchell Santner has broadened his bowling weaponry.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand