In a country where pacers are necessarily expected to do the bulwark with the white ball and remain often in the limelight, it is a difficult and maybe slightly even taxing for a slow bowler to make his presence felt. They are first expected to do all the holding work, acting as supporting star cast and then suddenly put under the pump.
However, that isn’t all; they are then expected to win the game having spent much of their tenure in a match under the radar.
Daniel Vettori performed this role for almost two decades and did it with huge success; a reason he has been till date the greatest ever spinner from the country. But that doesn’t mean the world’s best spinners don’t have to facet the arduous battles.
Things only become complicated when they arrive in what’s often been called the last of the battlegrounds, perhaps the sternest challenge: the subcontinent.
This sudden shift of role is something that every Kiwi had to adjust to.
This is where one particular force in motion in the BlackCaps camp is thriving- is he not?
An Important limited over player : A man who has been in the centre of New Zealand’s World Cup plan and in Vettori’ s shoes is Mitchell Josef Santner.
The left arm spinner from Northern Districts, who was deemed to be next Vettori on his debut, couldn’t achieve it big in Test cricket but have made ODI and T20 cricket as his go to format. It is in these formats that he has become a crucial fixture of the team, featuring in most of the games.
It is this reason why he suddenly finds himself being a key figure in the BlackCaps bowling line-up, which comprises of world class bowlers in the ongoing World Cup in India. His value to the team can be assessed from the fact that Ish Sodhi, who is senior to him, a wicket taking bowler has been made to sit on the bench in his favor.
There is a reason why Mitch Santner is a very valuable player for the team which is star studded and the likes Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Daryl Mitchell, Tom Latham and Matt Henry are bigger name to Santner but unlike these big names having stronger goodwill bring expertise to the game, Santner is a multi-faced cricketer.
He bats well, balls wells and can strike the ball a long way and in addition to these qualities he can be a wicket- taker, which BlackCaps requires on batting friendly pitches. Beyond this, he is a very good fielder, he brings so many dimensions to his game that it becomes impossible for the team to pick someone else over him.
Hasn’t disappointed the team: Santner hasn’t disappointed the team; he has led the attack very well in the tournament. In fact, after 5 matches, he stands no.1 in the World Cup wicket table for all 10 teams participating in the tournament. Santner has taken 12 wickets in 5 matches at a staggering average of 16.91 and has an unbelievable economy of just 4.25 in what has been a batsman dominated tournament.
Need to continue the form: This shows his vitality to the team cause, especially as New Zealand will need him more as the tournament enters in the crucial stage. New Zealand has 4 wins out of 5 matches and the remaining matches are tough one, against Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. A small blip and the whole hard work might go to waste. It is this reason why the side would really expect Santner to continue his golden run in the remaining matches to ensure they seal the semifinal berth.
A peek into his figures in ODI Cricket
|World Cup 2023||05||286||203||12||16.91||4.25|