Last time I wrote about the Super Smash, it was plodding along without much momentum or buzz and while we've had a steadier flow of game, there is still a plodding vibe to it. This is a bit weird as nothing about the Super Smash really feels like Aotearoa's glitzy-awesome-premier T20 competition, although I'm not surprised and it instead resembles the domestic T20 competition.
Something that the Domestic Cricket Daily loves because our coverage of domestic cricket is lovely, so there's nothing wrong with a more underground Super Smash than what it the competition is packaged as. Since last Saturday, we've had four Super Smash games and the Central Districts Stags vs Otago Volts game for last Sunday was rained off; meant to have five, only had four.
I'll quickly run through results and key performances before allowing my mind to wander...
Northern Districts Knights > Auckland Aces.
Daryl Mitchell: 78 off 51 (152.94r)
Mitchell McClenaghan: 3w in 3ov @ 7.66rpo.
Donovon Grobbelaar: 3w in 4ov @ 7.25rpo.
Craig Cachopa: 39 off 17 (229.41sr)
Will Somerville: 37* off 16 (231.25sr)
Scott Kuggeleijn: 4w in 4ov @ 4.50rpo
Mitchell Santner: 2w in 4ov @ 9.25rpo
Wellington Firebirds > Canterbury Kings
Michael Bracewell: 69 off 34 (202.94sr)
Adam Hose: 54* off 33 (163.63sr)
Kings 135 (18.2ov)
Cole McConchie: 83 off 52 (159.61sr)
Ben Sears: 4w in 4ov @ 4rpo.
Kings < Knights
Chad Bowes: 67 off 46 (145.65sr)
Andrew Ellis: 45 off 30 (150sr)
Chris Jordan: 2w in 4ov @ 9rpo
Knights 197/8 (19.4ov)
Ben Hampton: 55 off 41 (134.14sr)
Daniel Flynn: 31 off 13 (238.46sr)
Andrew Ellis: 3w in 4ov @ 8.75rpo
Kyle Jamieson: 2w in 4ov @ 10.50rpo
Central Districts Stags > Otago Volts
Will Young: 43 off 28 (153.57sr)
Dean Foxcroft: 56 off 41 (136.58sr)
Tom Bruce: 47 off 24 (195.83sr)
Josh Clarkson: 27 off 7 (385.71sr)
Nathan Smith: 3w in 4ov @ 7.50rpo
Jacob Duffy: 2w in 4 ov @ 6rpo
Brad Wilson: 32 off 21 (152.38sr)
Ben Wheeler: 4w in 4ov @ 6.50rpo
When we explored the Super Smash ladder last Saturday, the Knights and Volts were at the top. Since then, the Knights won their two games and the Volts had one game scratched then a big loss to the Stags last night. This saw the Knights go to 16 points in 1st and then we have the Firebirds (2nd), Stags (3rd) and Volts (4th) all on 10 points.
As I alluded to last time though, there will be changes in store for the Knights which could have a huge impact on the Super Smash. They will most likely be without Mitchell Santner and Scott Kuggeleijn as they are in the Blackcaps T20I squad for tonight's game against Sri Lanka and the Knights play in Wellington tomorrow. The Knights play Canterbury next Wednesday (16th) and this could feature a bunch of Blackcaps before the ODI series vs India starts on the 23rd.
Kuggeleijn is 2nd in wickets with 10w @ 15.50avg/7.88rpo and Santner has 6w @ 21.50avg/6.78rpo. Kuggeleijn also whacked 7* off 2 in the Knights win over Canterbury.
Further niggle will come when Anton Devcich and Chris Jordan leave to join Sydney Thunder. I talked about Devcich's departure last time, including a Tweet from the Thunder that also announced Jordan's impending arrival, but I didn't know that Jordan would also link up with the Knights as he has done in past summers. Again, I don't know when exactly these two will gap to Big Bash League, but it's most likely going to coincide with the Blackcaps vs India ODI series.
Neither Devcich or Jordan had much of influence in the win vs Auckland. In the win vs Canterbury though, Jordan took 2w @ 9rpo and then played a low key crucial knock down the order with 17 off 8 (212.50sr) late in big run chase. Devcich has been fairly mediocre with the bat, solid with the ball and while he hasn't really fired, he's the perfect lad to have in a strong team because you know that he'll do something crazy at some stage.
That is to say that the Knights sit in 1st with a team that probably won't take them forward through the next week or so. Of course, the Knights are stacked with talent and various Blackcaps could be in/out to absorb the loss of Devcich and Jordan. All of which makes for a bloody interesting next two games (12th/16th) for the Knights.
The Firebirds, Stags and Volts on the other hand will have minor disruption via the Blackcaps, but are going to have the luxury of rolling out a similar, strong group in their next few games. Wellington and CD are especially chocka with talent, to the point where I'm kinda expecting these two teams to close the gap on ND, or overtake ND at the top of the ladder.
Over the next week, the Firebirds take on Knights in Wellington (12th) and are at home again vs Auckland (18th). The Stags are away to Knights (13th), then at home in Napier vs Knights (19th). They will both play the Knights and both have two very win-able games, given their respective playing rosters.
Wellington have the best batsman thus far in Michael Bracewell (209r @ 52.25avg/190sr), as well as Devon Conway who is 4th in runs (161r @ 40.25avg/136.44sr). Overseas joker Adam Hose showed his class last week as well and has 2 not-outs in 4inns, giving him 105r @ 52.50avg/154.41sr. That then gives the Firebirds an almighty top order.
Ben Sears showed what he is capable of with the ball in his breakout performance and while Hamish Bennett's the best Firebirds bowler with 7w @ 17.71/8.26rpo, Sears and Logan van Beek both have 4w in just 8ov (2inns).
Stags batting is led by skipper Tom Bruce, who is 2nd in runs with 171r @ 57avg/151.32sr. That's it for the Stags at the top of the run-scoring rankings, however the quality of their batting line up is such that anyone from Will Young, Dean Foxcroft (only played 2 games), George Worker, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Dane Cleaver and Aotearoa's best slugger Josh Clarkson can catch fire at any point.
Even without Seth Rance - who should be back after the Blackcaps T20I - the Stags can still call on Ben Wheeler (7w @ 12.57avg/5.86rpo) and Blair Tickner (6w @ 22avg/9.42rpo). Ajaz Patel's unlikely to see any Blackcaps limited overs cricket and his work as the main spinner will be a funky narrative to keep tabs on this week.
One lad to watch out for is Dean Foxcroft, who has been low key dominant in his first summer of domestic cricket in Aotearoa. The Stags all-rounder took 12w in just 3inns in Plunket Shield to average 11/1.89rpo and scored 259 Ford Trophy runs in 6inns to average 51.80/94.52s. In last night's win over Otago, Foxcroft hit his first 50+ Super Smash knock and has 69 runs in 2inns @ 140.81sr.
Foxcroft hasn't had much of an impact with the ball yet, however he has clearly shown in all formats that he can influence games with either bat or ball. The talent in the Stags squad could overshadow Foxcroft's antics, so keep an eye on this young kiwi-African when the Stags are playing on telly or when scouring through Super Smash scorecards.
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Peace and love 27.