While the New Zealand players still in the country have enjoyed another spell of training at Lincoln, most of those engaged in India will be becoming rather frustrated with their own World Cup preparations. A Kiwi in action in the IPL has become a rare sight of late.
Over the last fortnight Mitchell Santner has been the best performing of the New Zealanders, with a tidy 1/30 for the Chennai Super Kings against the Kolkata Knight Riders, and a stand-out performance against the Mumbai Indians.
First up, he took 2/13 in his four overs as the Mumbai side reached 155/4 – his two victims were Rohit Sharma (with a T20 strike rate above 133) and the destructive West Indian Evin Lewis (whose strike rate lingers above 144), so a very valuable spell of bowling. Then he contributed 22, the second-top score, as his side surrendered for 109. Almost as worthwhile as his bowling performance will have been the experience he’s gaining bowling alongside Harbhajhan Singh and Imran Tahir – an impressive mix of spin bowlers.
Kane Williamson returned to the Sunrisers Hyderabad line-up but managed just two scores of 3 and then an unbeaten 8 as the opening pair of Dave Warner and Jonny Bairstow continued to enjoy their outstanding series together. In those three innings, Williamson came to the crease after opening partnerships of 72, 66 and 131. Having started his campaign under an injury cloud he then returned home briefly following the sad passing of his grandmother and he has just returned to the action with 13 against the Rajasthan Royals.
In this match Australian middle-order batsman Ashton Turner scored 3 not out as the Rajasthan Royals chased down 161 for victory. Those 3 runs broke a run of five consecutive T20 ducks which started in his final Big Bash game of the season, back in February. He then failed to score for Australia in a T20 against India before stringing together three more zeroes in his first three IPL outings for the Royals. In between times he didn’t get to bat in another T20 International against India, so he had gone six matches without scoring a run. In the midst of it all he had also been omitted from Australia’s World Cup squad, so a tough few weeks for the 26-year-old Western Australian.
Colin Munro scored a typically aggressive 40 off 24 balls for the Delhi Capitals against Sunrisers Hyderabad (who were all out for 116 after Warner and Bairstow’s 72-run start) but then managed only 3, his position in the batting order, against the Mumbai Indians.
Ish Sodhi and Tim Southee have had a game apiece without notable success, and that has been that for the Black Caps contingent. To place the New Zealanders’ IPL results (as at Saturday 27th) in context, none of them has taken more than Santner’s 4 wickets, while South Africa’s Kagiso Rabada has bagged 23 victims at just under fifteen runs apiece. With the bat, New Zealand’s top run-scorers have been Munro and Colin de Grandhomme, who’ve each tallied 43 in the tournament. Top of the table is Dave Warner with 574 runs at 71.8.
There’s better news from England where Ross Taylor opened his Royal London One Day Cup campaign by top-scoring with 64 for Middlesex in their win over Surrey. Shortly after Taylor arrived at the crease Middlesex found themselves 70/4 at the start of the thirteenth over, and by all accounts he played with typical class and calmness to steer his side towards a winning total at The Kia Oval.
The veteran Jeetan Patel has been the best-performed New Zealander so far in this northern summer. Captaining Warwickshire, he had 2/41 in a tied match against Yorkshire, followed that up with 2/55 in a loss to Northamptonshire and then picked up 5/45 against Nottinghamshire, although again this wasn’t enough to take his side to victory. At this stage he sits equal sixth equal amongst the competition’s leading wicket-takers.
Logan van Beek had 3/50 for Derbyshire against Northamptonshire, and last summer’s Auckland Ace Matt Quinn had 2/64 playing for Essex against Surrey. He had less fortune against Somerset though, when his eight overs went for 80 as Somerset racked up 353/5 before the rain came, consigning Essex to a Duckworth Lewis Stern defeat.
Meanwhile the 2019 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack has arrived, and not surprisingly 2017-18 Auckland Ace Sam Curran has been named one of the five Cricketers of the Year following the precocious start to his Test career last English summer. As always the Almanack is full of beguiling gems and an initial glance has shown me that Curran was dismissed for 20 on his 20th birthday in the Second Test at Headingley last year. Who would have guessed that only once before in Test cricket had someone scored their age on their birthday – Geoff Pullar for England against Australia in 1961. He made 26.
Perhaps more surprising than these facts is that England’s Sky Sports statistician Benedict Bermange actually knew this!
He is also able to tell us that Pakistan’s Usman Salahuddin is the 11th player to make his test debut in his 100th first class match. As it happens, two of those eleven are actually New Zealanders and both were recent wicket-keepers – Reece Young and Kruger van Wyk. Another of the eleven was Greg Chappell – surprising that such a wonderful player would have to wait 100 matches to pull on the Australian cap.
We learn too that Imran Khan is the sixth first class cricketer to become Prime Minister of his country, and again one of his predecessors was a New Zealander. Francis Bell played two matches for Wellington in the 1870s and then after two terms as Mayor of Wellington he briefly became New Zealand’s first home-born Primer Minister in 1925 upon the death of William Massey.
Image Credit: Photosport