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Cricket: Mitchell Santner a chance for breakout 2017

Mitchell Santner. Photo / Photosport
Mitchell Santner. Photo / Photosport

Are we about to witness Mitchell Santner's moving year?

The 24-year-old has embedded himself in the New Zealand cricket line-up across all formats, joining a dwindling group consisting of Kane Williamson, Trent Boult and Tim Southee as first choice selections.

Vignettes of the all-rounder's talent have emerged across 11 tests, 25 ODIs and 10 T20Is in the last 18 months. With such a solid grounding, this should be the year his left-arm orthodox spin and crisp stroke-making make exponential steps towards regularly winning games.

The highlight of Santner's year came in the World T20 alongside fellow spinners Ish Sodhi and Nathan McCullum as New Zealand stormed to the semi-finals unbeaten. Santner joined Sodhi and England's David Willey in taking the most wickets during the competition proper. His 10 came at an average of 11.40, strike rate of 12 and economy rate of 6.27. His best bowling - 4-11 against India - shocked the tournament as he dismissed T20 gurus MS Dhoni, Rohit Sharma and Suresh Raina. India's capitulation for 79 in the chase for 127 was the most wickets they had lost to spin in that format.

Santner's best all-round test return came in September against India at Kanpur, picking up aggregates of 103 runs and five wickets for 173. He earned praise from captain Kane Williamson, despite New Zealand losing the test and ODI series.

"He has been outstanding. Although conditions are favourable for spinners, come [to India] and struggle.

"Mitch has performed day in and day out. His change of pace and his ability to spin the ball was a great asset."

In the India tests, Santner was equal top wicket-taker with Trent Boult on 10, albeit at an average of 52.40 as India dominated with the bat. He was the most economical bowler in the ODIs, conceding at a run rate of 4.00 from his 46 overs.

However, Santner's ODI batting has disappointed of late. After contributing 35 not out and 45 not out in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in February, he has not capitalised on several opportunities since. His highest score is 17 not out from his last 10 ODI innings. Average tends to be irrelevant at No.8 in T20s because the opportunities are limited, but a strike rate of 85 from seven innings provides another concern.

Santner had a couple of setbacks across 2016. An injured foot ruled him out of the Chappell-Hadlee decider at home, and a fractured right wrist saw him miss the first test of the Pakistan series in November.

With his security of selection, he now has a chance to capitalise across the summer.

Santner's Stats

- NZ Herald

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