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Super Smash and the success of spin in T20 leagues

Additionally, in the T20 format, it is a bent amongst batsmen to try hit more sixes.

Ish Sodhi Northern Districts
Ish Sodhi Northern Districts. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

The most recently concluded edition of the Super Smash was a testimony to yet another bowlers’ dominated affair. The final between Central Districts and the Nothern Districts was another lower scoring game, just like the final from the previous season. Most certainly the bowlers took away the limelight. As usual, the right arm pacers and the spinners made a difference. As is a tradition in the Super Smash and other such T20 leagues.

A majority of the Northern Districts’ wickets were taken by Adam Milne, Doug Bracewell, and Ajaz Patel. Even amidst the Central Districts domination, the bowlers of Northern Districts picked eight wickets out of which four went into the account of the spinners, Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner.

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Overall, the Super Smash is almost a shadow of New Zealand’s batting woes against spin. Although the performance by the batsmen as a whole has been at par, the spinners have stolen the show. The pitches in New Zealand are known to have green tops that usually subdue spin and favour seam but become flat with due progress of the match. But spinners have found their way towards success in the shortest format.

Anton Devcich has had a forgettable international career playing for the Black Caps. But he was a natural hero for the Northern Districts throughout their journey of winning the title last season. He claimed 16 wickets at 16.20, sporting a commendable 6.39 as an economy rate. Performing as a full package, he scored 343 runs averaging 42.87 and maintaining a strike rate of 168.13. With all host grounds having an economy rate of 7 and above, a wicket-taking bowler like Devcich is a player to treasure.

Different prospect in Asia

In Asia, though the case is different, especially in the subcontinent. The opening match between India and New Zealand in the 2016 World T20, at Nagpur, is considered as one of New Zealand captain Kane Williamson’s biggest plucky moves. The decision of dropping frontline seamers Trent Boult and Tim Southee to accommodate three spinners, spin not being their greatest strength, had seemed rather quirky and risky. However, a victory that seemed impossible was achieved owing to Williamson’s ploy which was termed ‘Bloody Genius’.

In fact, the IPL has been a witness to wrist spinners ruling the show time and again. A format that was supposed to favour the batsmen has brought out the match-winning quality in spinners even more. The likes of Kuldeep Yadav, Rashid Khan, and Mayank Markande left a mark in the Indian Premier League very recently and even the upcoming season is deemed to be ruled by wrist spinners. No wonder a new mystery spinner of TNPL fame was bought by the Kings XI Punjab for a whopping 8.4 crore.

The Art of Spin in T20Is

Ronnie Hira
Ronnie Hira. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

But the art and effects of spin do not necessarily have to depend on the amount of turn the pitch offers, like the one on a turner pitch in Nagpur, did. In certain cases, like the one in concern, the percentage of yield of a spinner is inversely proportional to the batsman’s efficiency in reading spin deliveries.

Additionally, in the T20 format, it is a bent amongst batsmen to try and hit more sixes. In that process and while facing spinners, when batsmen use their feet or step out, it paves way for them to get stumped out or bowled and some mistimed shots off slower-deliveries get caught near the boundary line.

Think outside the boundary line

In New Zealand though, where the grounds are essentially smaller, there is a higher possibility that the ball might go all the way. In fact, a majority of top individual scores have consisted of a high boundary percentage throughout seasons of Super Smash.

The pacers are easier to hit, especially during the powerplay. The higher economy rate, as compared to spinners, speaks for itself. Amongst the 12 bowlers with 10 or more wickets in the 2017-18 edition, 7 were spinners. The ratio between the economy rates of pacers and spinners is around 9:7. According to the numbers, the most yielding wicket-takers have been left-arm orthodox spinners and right-arm pacers.

Speaking about the versatility of spinners across several T20 leagues around the world, we have seen the likes of Adam Zampa, Brad Hogg, Scott Boland and Nathan Lyon shining in the Big Bash League (BBL).

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