Cricket: NZ lucky to have avoided mystery spinner thus far

By David Leggat

Sunil Narine. Photo / Getty Images
Sunil Narine. Photo / Getty Images

Just as well the West Indies brains trust decided they didn't need Sunil Narine for the first two tests.

Just as well their batting - the Darren Bravo-inspired second innings at Dunedin, and Shiv Chanderpaul and Denesh Ramdin on Friday the honourable exclusions - has been poor, otherwise New Zealand could have been in a far different situation in this series.

They are facing a mop-up job to take out the rubber 2-0 on the fourth day at Seddon Park today. But one look at the Trinidad spinner has been enough to suggest New Zealand should be thankful for the West Indies' selectorial whims and batting sloppiness.

Narine took six for 91, his best test figures, in New Zealand's first innings 349 yesterday.

That took him to 21 wickets in his sixth test at 38.6 which is not flash, but the numbers improve markedly when he plays New Zealand.

Against them, he has 18 wickets at 22.1 apiece after two tests in the Caribbean last year and the first innings at Seddon Park.

Narine is usually referred to as a 'mystery' spinner - that is, he's neither a conventional off or legspin bowler.

He is primarily an offspinner, who has the ability to bowl a delivery which turns from leg to off. Narine's style is nothing new in test cricket.

Big Australian Jack Iverson is a candidate for the most 'mysterious' of all test bowlers.

Gripping the ball between thumb and third finger, spinning it both ways with no change in action, he took 21 wickets at 15.2 as the Ashes were retained in 1950-51. They were his only tests.

Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis has picked up 64 wickets in 17 tests at 34 each. Again, not startling. His best work tends to be in short form cricket.

Batsmen prefer straightforward bowlers , not fancy dans doing sleight-of-hand work. Narine smiled at the 'M' word last night.

"For me there's a slight mystery," he said. ''But at the end of the day you don't get to choose your nickname in cricket."

"Anything in cricket that is a little bit different brings an impact. But the problem is how long it lasts."

How many different deliveries does he have?

"You just have to keep it simple."

Three?

"Three."

He is here for the ODI series so New Zealand will see plenty more of him in the coming weeks.

- Herald on Sunday

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