Worcestershire Man Santner Hoping to Spin New Zealand to World Cup Glory - The Evesham Observer

Worcestershire Man Santner Hoping to Spin New Zealand to World Cup Glory

Evesham Editorial 9th Nov, 2023   0

As the 2023 Cricket World Cup heads towards its climax, there are still plenty of current and former Worcestershire CCC players with a hope of getting their hands on the iconic trophy.

Steve Smith, who played a season for the Pears more than a decade ago when he was considered a spin bowler primarily, has morphed into one of the best batsmen in world cricket – his Australia team is assured of a semi-final berth.

As for New Zealand, they need to beat Sri Lanka in their final group-stage game to take their place in the last four. And they’ll have two Worcestershire stars helping them to hopefully achieve exactly that…

Spin Twins

Should New Zealand beat the Sri Lankans, they will set up a semi-final date with India.

The size of that task is confirmed by the Cricket World Cup winners’ odds, which post India as the 1.96 favourites ahead of Australia (4.8), South Africa (5.8), and the Kiwis (12.5).

But the tournament has been no stranger to shock results and upsets, with England’s – the defending champion – struggles in contrast to the amazing emergence of Afghanistan as a cricketing force.

New Zealand will need big performances from their key men if they do bump into India, whose number includes those two Worcestershire aces: Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi.

Santner, the world-class spinner, enjoyed two seasons in the West Midlands back in 2016 and 2017, before returning to bolster the Worcestershire Rapids’ quest to win the T20 Blast in the summer just gone.

He took some key wickets during that campaign, but it was as a pinch-hitting batsman that Santner really came to the party for the Pears: he made three half-centuries in total, with knocks of 42 and 64 against Durham and Derbyshire respectively key to Worcestershire qualifying for the quarter-finals.

They would lose out to Hampshire there, but Santner’s vital input once again endeared him to the Worcestershire faithful – the hope is that he will return to New Road in the not-too-distant future.

Gun for Hire

As a spin bowler that was once ranked top of the ICC’s T20 rankings, it will come as no surprise to learn that Sodhi has been in demand as a sort of limited overs ‘gun for hire’ around the world.

As well as representing New Zealand, the 31-year-old has embarked on club cricket stints with Worcestershire, Nottinghamshire, the Welsh Fire, and Somerset in the UK, as well as overseas with teams as varied as the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, Rajasthan Royals, and Adelaide Strikers.

Seasoned Worcestershire fans will have fond memories of Sodhi’s season at New Road back in 2021, with the player himself commenting on the “emotion” he felt at representing a county that had been so good to his fellow Kiwis and club legend Dipak Patel, who had coached the spinner in New Zealand.

Sodhi took 4-24 against the Birmingham Bears to secure local bragging rights for the Pears, however defeat to Leicestershire in their final game would see Worcestershire finish just one point outside of the top four places – and thus agonisingly short of the T20 Blast quarter-finals.

But there are plenty of good memories of Santner and Sodhi from their time at New Road, so Worcestershire supporters will no doubt be wishing them well on their quest for the World Cup.

This is a submitted article

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