Sodhi has twist in his wrist

Australia's Big Bash League gets a bad rap as a slogathon which favours batsmen.

Pitches are sterilised, fielding restrictions imposed and boundary ropes moved in to encourage the batting adventure the crowds love.

While purists sneer at the bogan entertainment, they have to salute the financial attraction of guaranteed results as competitors show off their stunning collection of athletic talents and skill.

For those of us this side of the Tasman, there was a special glow this week as leg-spinner Ish Sodhi took six for 11 in a tick over three overs in his final game for the Adelaide Thunder.


It was a massive fillip for the 24-year-old, who had struggled with his form before making some headway here in the T20s with Bangladesh. Playing for the Thunder has helped to burnish that belief.

Encouragement from experienced skipper Brad Hodge about bowling in different conditions and conversations with former Aussie leggie Stuart MacGill bulked up Sodhi's confidence.

He'd not had the control and bite he wanted in his deliveries until an intensive week bowling in the Big Bash reconfigured Sodhi's confidence in his ability.

"Just to sit down with him [MacGill] was inspiring. He didn't have to say much - he did tell me a lot, which was great - but just being in his presence was amazing.

"He's a guy who gave me something to look up to when I was younger and something to look forward to. He taught me a lot and hopefully I can continue to make him proud."

The New Zealand selectors should cash in on the leg-spinner's renewed assurance and get him in to the squads for the upcoming challenges from Australia and South Africa.

Sodhi's provincial teammate Mitchell Santner is the only spinner in the 13-man test squad. Both have played a similar number of tests, Sodhi has a few more wickets but is more expensive while Santner's batting and fielding abilities give him an extra push.

There's a conservative selection approach which is slanted to guard against defeat rather than push for victory with Santner batting at eight behind all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme and wicket-keeper BJ Watling.

That strategy worked at the Basin Reserve and may do so again at Hagley Oval.

Leg-spinners in New Zealand are usually seen as a luxury or bowlers to turn to when everything else has failed. History reinforces that , with Jack Alabaster's work, especially in South Africa in 1961-2, the standout in this country's meagre leg-spinning honours list.

Left-arm slows like Daniel Vettori, Hedley Howarth, Tom Burtt, Stephen Boock or Santner have been preferred - usually because of their tighter control.

That caution carries selection clout against the googlies, toppies, sliders, zooters and all the rest leggies can conjure. They are attacking bowlers who generally go for more runs than their orthodox comrades.

But leg-spinners, in the zone and supported by attacking captaincy, are a menacing point of difference in both the one-day and test versions of the game.

Ask the Aussies or South Africans for an appraisal of Sodhi and Santner. If you could get an honest answer, they'd prefer to avoid the leggie.