Cricket: Young Sodhi all fired up to carry on learning

By David Leggat

Ish Sodhi found the conditions in Bangladesh testing, but learned "that patience plays a big part in the long format". Photo / AP
Ish Sodhi found the conditions in Bangladesh testing, but learned "that patience plays a big part in the long format". Photo / AP

To ears more attuned to the tired, bland or cynical, a conversation with Ish Sodhi is something else.

The young legspinner, named yesterday for next week's first test squad to face the West Indies, positively oozes enthusiasm.

Then again, so he should, at 21, and with the cricket world potentially his oyster.

Sodhi got his chance on the tour to Bangladesh last month, usurped Auckland left-armer Bruce Martin as the preferred spin option and enjoyed an encouraging start to his career.

He took six wickets in the two tests at Chittagong and Dhaka, scored a maiden half century and certainly did enough to warrant another chance.

"I've never enjoyed a game of cricket more than playing for New Zealand," the tall Northern Districts player said. "It was something else. Every moment was enjoyable; that was one of the biggest things I took out of it.

"It was an awesome challenge and I'm glad I've got the opportunity to be in the squad for this home series so I can relive that enjoyment." Sodhi found the conditions in Bangladesh testing. They put to bed the oft-held theory that pitches on the subcontinent routinely help spinners.

"It did spin, but slowly so it was quite easy to play off the wicket.

"You had to be pretty harsh on yourself with your lines and lengths. One thing I did learn there was that patience plays a big part in the long format."

The University Oval, venue for next week's test, doesn't exactly have spin bowlers licking their lips like a cat spying a bowl of cream, but the odds are Sodhi will play.

There are two reasons for that: variety and what might be termed the "just in case" factor.

Kane Williamson is not a lock to play, as he's recovering from a broken thumb, although the chances are good that he will. That means some offspin support for the seamers.

Four fast-medium bowlers are in the 13 but only three are likely to be picked, with Corey Anderson offering medium pace backup. Yet while the pitch block generally favours the seamers, if it doesn't work out that way captains would always want an alternative option rather than be left high and dry.

Sodhi had a look at University Oval for the first time during a T20 visit this month. He'll try to use the test - assuming he makes the XI - as another tick in the learning column.

"I have done a lot of learning over the last year. As long as I can keep improving I think things will progress. I feel in a good space at the moment and I'll keep trying to live every day as it is, rather than worry too much about the future."

The squad was a straightforward selection, the only real issue around No 3, where Williamson will be given every chance to prove he's ready, leaving Aaron Redmond as the cover.

National selection manager Bruce Edgar was confident Williamson would be right by Tuesday.

Still, Redmond would bring a high degree of dry wit to proceedings should he play, as he revealed in a radio interview yesterday.

Asked about his last test five years ago, when he scored 83 and 19 against Australia at Adelaide, he quipped that "if I get the opportunity I'm coming off some form".

- NZ Herald

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