Inspired by watching R Aswhin. Honed in English county cricket. Unfurled against Pakistan in Hamilton. Mitchell Santner‘s new delivery, his version of the carrom ball, has been the talk of New Zealand over the last few days.
During the fourth one-day international at Seddon Park, Santner defeated Fakhar Zaman, who was well set on 54, when the opener advanced down the pitch and was bowled. Closer inspection revealed Santner had flicked the ball out of his fingers, rather than spinning it in the traditional way for a left-armer, and the delivery gripped to turn the opposite way, from the left-handers leg to off stump.
“I’ve been working on a few things and the grip is very similar to Ashwin’s. He used it against us in the Test series over there and I thought ‘yeah, that’s not a bad ball’ so thought I’d give it a crack,” Santner said after New Zealand wrapped up a 5-0 whitewash in Wellington.
“I actually used it in county cricket and some of the T20 stuff over there, but on a pitch that suits [sic], it works better because it’s hard to put a lot on it. I am just flicking it out. If there is a little bit of spin, ideally I’d use it a little bit more.”
The challenge now for Santner is that everyone is looking for the delivery, which has been termed the “Santner Claw” in New Zealand.
“You guys have been analysing it quite a bit now so I might have to put it away,” he joked. “I might have to disguise it a bit more because every time I look up it’s on the big screen. It adds another element to my game. I tend to just work with changes of pace so if one can go the other way it puts a bit of doubt in the batsman’s mind. If you can stay one step ahead, predict what the batsman can do, then it’s ideal.”
Santner chipped in with quietly effective performances with the ball during the five one-day internationals: 1 for 34 in Nelson, 1 for 43 in Hamilton (when the carrom ball came out) and then 3 for 40 in Wellington when Pakistan got closest to nipping a victory.
He was aided by New Zealand’s quicks having invariably made inroads to leave Pakistan in recovery mode, although at the Basin Reserve responded to his captain’s call to quell a late charge which put New Zealand under a rare spot of pressure. Santner responded with the wickets of Haris Sohail and Shadab Khan, the two half-century makers, before adding Faheem Ashraf
“On a holding wicket like that there was more chance for me to get a few wickets and that’s what happened,” he said.
New Zealand are unbeaten during their season – 12 victories alongside an abandoned T20 against West Indies – as their attention now turns to the three T20s against Pakistan followed by the marquee part of their summer with the T20 tri-series involving Australia and England before the latter stay for one-day and Test series.
“Looking forward to both those series, they are quite big for us,” Santner said. “But first things first it’s the T20s against Pakistan and hopefully we can take the momentum into the tri-series.”