While everyone has been chillin' or working, or investing any sporting energies they do have into Blackcaps cricket, the cheeky Super Smash has been plodding along. Plodding feels like the right word as there is variance in the number of games played with four teams playing three games, one team with two games and another with four games, plus we haven't had a game since January 1st; it's lacking a rhythm.
That's right, so far the Super Smash is like your pakeha mate trying to get his jig on at a summer concert or even when that certain banger comes out the bluetooth speaker. No 'riddum' and while that's another minor frustration with Aotearoa's premier T20 competition, things should change starting tomorrow as we've got a more consistent dose of fixtures flowing in.
With different teams playing different number of games, assessing the best performers can get a bit niggly and that makes writing about the opening stanza a difficult task. There are a few angles I'll take in this thingy, hopefully touching on a the key points around the kiwi T20 landscape that then helps you spin some yarns when the topic arises; while your mate is getting his jig on.
I'll start with the table and which teams are doing what. The first three teams have all played three games with Northern Districts Knights and Otago Volts both on 8 points (Knights are 1st via run-rate), then Auckland are ahead of Wellington via run-rate, both have 6 points. Auckland Aces and Wellington Firebirds also have a no result, which could be annoying for Wellington as they are the team who have had four games on their schedule thus far. Canterbury Kings on the other hand, are the team with two games and they sit in 5th. Then we have Central Districts Stags who have played three games and sit in 6th.
Don't buzz too much about the table at the moment though as it's just 4 points separating 1st and 6th. Another way of sussing that is saying that two teams have 8 points, two teams have 6 points and two teams have 4 points; Canterbury are ahead of the Stags via run-rate but Canterbury have also played one game less than the Stags. A lot could change in the next week or so and with the table looking jam-packed, it won't take much for the Stags to climb a few spots or Canterbury who will catch up via games played.
In terms of players helping their teams win, it's best to focus on the teams who have two wins so far and sit at the top of the ladder. The leading run-scorer is Dean Brownlie from the Knights -mainly via his knock of 99 - and the funky bit here is that Tim Seifert is next-best with scores of 46, 55 and 4. Seifert is now on Blackcaps duty though and the Knights will now require runs elsewhere to absorb the loss of Seifert.
The key candidate is Anton Devcich. As a T20 specialist, Devcich hasn't offered the Knights much value so far with 38 runs in 3inns @ 108.57 and without Seifert, those numbers have to improve. If only Devcich was available for the entire Super Smash; Devcich will move to Sydney Thunder (Jan 13-ish) as a replacement player.
Things become excessively niggly when we move to the bowlers, where Devcich is the Knights best bowler with 5w @ 16avg/6.66rpo. Double up on that because Ish Sodhi will also be out of action on Blackcaps duty and he was impressive in his three games with 4w @ 20.25avg/6.75rpo. Sodhi and Devcich joined by Kyle Jamieson and Christi Viljoen (1st and 2nd in wickets) as the only bowlers with 4+ wickets who have conceded less that 7rpo.
As the Knights lose three key performers from the opening stanza, we should expect them to at least plateau or most likely regress. Otago are in a far better position to kick on as they have Viljoen on 7w @ 7.42avg/5.77rpo and Jacob Duffy on 5w @ 17.40avg/7.90rpo as their key bowlers, both of whom are playing the Super Smash throughout.
They also have the veteran trio of Anaru Kitchen (4th), Neil Broom (7th) and Hamish Rutherford (10th) churning out swift runs. Shawn Hicks (11th) is also in the mix and all aside from Kitchen have strike-rates over 120, which is all good considering Kitchen has the most runs and a healthy strike-rate of 116.51.
The Knights' best players are gapping the scene, while the Volts best players have set up camp.
We've recently had a Blackcaps T20 squad announced for a lone game vs Sri Lanka, deep in the T20 international abyss. Hence I'll give zero hoots about this game, but I have pulled together the stats of the players named in the Blackcaps squad, who have also played at least two Super Smash games...
Scott Kuggeleijn: 5w @ 18.60avg/7.97rpo.
Jimmy Neesham: 5w @ 14.60avg/9.12rpo | 32 runs @ 16avg/168.42sr.
Glenn Phillips: 2 runs (in 2inns, no need for further stats there mate).
Seth Rance: 3w @ 22vg/6.18rpo.
Mitchell Santner: 3w @ 23avg/8.62rpo | 26 runs @ 26avg/130sr.
Tim Seifert: 105 runs @ 35avg/136.36sr.
Ish Sodhi: 4w @ 20.25avg/6.75rpo.
I've also put together a Super Smash All Stars team, not including Blackcaps ODI or T20 players. As this is my All Stars team, it also serves as a guide to who I've got marked down as players to watch closely moving forward through the Super Smash and with that in mind, I haven't included Devcich as he won't be there to watch out for...
Devon Conway (Welly - wk): 136 runs @ 45.33avg/140.20sr.
Dean Brownlie (ND): 144 runs @ 72avg/167.44sr.
Michael Bracewell (Welly): 140 runs @ 46.66avg/184.21sr.
Tom Bruce (CD): 124 runs @ 62avg/139.32sr.
Cole McConchie (Cant): 48 runs @ 48 avg/106.66sr | 1w @ 40avg/6.66rpo.
Anaru Kitchen (Ota): 127 runs @ 42.33avg/116.52sr | 7.57rpo.
Daryl Mitchell (ND): 76 runs @ 25.33avg/115.15sr | 2w @ 14.50avg/10.23rpo.
Kyle Jamieson (Cant): 8w @ 5.87avg/5.87rpo | 33 runs @ 194.11sr.
Ben Wheeler (CD): 3w @ 20.66avg/5.63rpo.
Christi Viljoen (Ota): 7w @ 7.42avg/5.77rpo.
Jacob Duffy (Ota): 5w @ 17.40avg/7.90rpo.
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Peace and love 27.