Mike Hesson likes what he's seeing from allrounder Mitchell Santner, but admits it is still ''a work in progress''.

Lefthander Santner is a young man of talent but he's yet to produce the real breakthrough performance.

In 17 tests, he has scored 535 runs at 25.47, just twice reaching 50 in 21 innings; his 34 wickets have come 37.05 each.

In his nine tests in New Zealand he has taken 13 wickets and averages 25 with the bat.


Taking wickets in New Zealand historically tends to be hard going for spinners. The pitches are rarely conducive before the final day. There are a pile of lessons to absorb while mastering the craft.

Hesson clearly feels Santner can become a medium to long term No 6 batsman, and likes his ability to keep runs to a minimum with the ball, so he's performing a role even if the wickets aren't tumbling.

''Mitch is progressing nicely. He's averaging close to 30 in his last six tests, and was part of three very important partnerships in the West Indies series. It's a really important job he does in that role.''

Santner was the wingman to the imperious Colin de Grandhomme on his way to a 71-ball century at the Basin Reserve; then made valuable contributions with de Grandhomme again and centurymaker Ross Taylor at Hamilton.

The idea that the New Zealand spinner should be able to run through opposing batting lineups in this country is fanciful.

Only three times in New Zealand's 206 home test matches in 87 years has a spinner taken 10 or more wickets in a match — Daniel Vettori with 12 for 149 against Australia at Eden Park in 1999-2000; and 10 for 183 against Sri Lanka in Wellington in 2006-07; and John Bracewell with 10 for 106 in the celebrated series-clinching win over Australia at Eden Park in 1986.

Hesson pointed out Santner's economy rate, and ability to keep an end tight, plays an important part in his job.

''Spin bowlers in New Zealand don't take a lot of wickets so they've got to do a slightly different role than they'd do in other parts of the world,'' Hesson said.


Santner's most successful test, when he came closest to a notable allrounder contribution, was at Kanpur late last year, when he had a batting double of 32 and 71, and took five wickets in the match, all batsmen in India's top six.