While Canterbury vs Auckland Aces and Otago Volts vs Wellington Firebirds head into the final day of Plunket Shield round seven, Central Districts Stags wrapped up a victory over Northern Districts Knights on day three. The Stags won by 1 wicket in a fairly epic encounter while there is definitely some intrigue in couple Stags performances, the bulk of this thing revolves around some Ish Sodhi funk.
Sodhi's effort is notable for a few different wrinkles, starting with the fact that he took 9 wickets (4, 5). These wickets were spread out through CD's batting line up and this is low key important for a leggy like Sodhi as dismissed key batsmen as well as wrapping up the tail; Ben Smith, Dane Cleaver and Kieran Noema-Barnett in the first dig, then Greg Hay, Tom Bruce and Cleaver in the second along with a few tail-enders.
This performance has the backdrop of the Blackcaps spin situation, which puts your mind in a boggling mess as the Blackcaps A) don't need a spinner regardless of whether they have four or five seamers in Aotearoa and B) are bullying a mediocre Bangladesh outfit in Aotearoa. I bring this up because I want to reinforce that while Sodhi's snared all sorts of wickets, the solid performances of Ajaz Patel, Mitchell Santner and Will Somerville along with Todd Astle being ignored, means that the general kiwi spin situation hasn't changed at all over the last few weeks.
Given all these variables, the best longform spinner in Aotearoa is still the spinner you have a crush on - personal perspective. I like crazy leggies with high ceilings, so I like Sodhi the most.
This 9-wicket-haul is also cool as Sodhi has now taken 2+ wickets in each of his last 5 innings. That's a 5inns streak of 2+ wickets and in his last two Plunket Shield games, Sodhi has taken 17w and this has seen Sodhi shoot up to 2nd in wickets. Keep in mind though that the other two games are ongoing and Matt Henry had 15w in his last two games prior to being yanked out of Plunket Shield.
After the last round, I wrote about Sodhi's 8w vs Auckland and brought up his last four Plunket Shield campaigns. 9w in this round has seen Sodhi drop his average to 24.89 and if Sodhi can maintain his run of form, he could finish the season with three seasons averaging below 26. Cbf doing the mathematics, but there is a chance that if Sodhi goes large again in the next round that he could put up back to back Plunket Shield seasons averaging below 20.
The key factor other than his stats being worthy of a consistent crack at Test cricket, is that Sodhi is rather unique and he's designed for Aotearoa conditions as much as he is for Asian pitches. Look at this delivery that took the wicket of Ajaz Patel and how much bounce Sodhi gets:
That's a nightmare for batsmen, let alone a lower order battler such as Patel. The CD lefty was also decent with 3w and 2w, with wickets spread throughout the Knights batting line up to take him to 11w @ 30.09avg this season. Sodhi's ND spin twin Santner also offered some nice lefties, with 3w and 2w, which has him sitting on 6w @ 28avg. While Sodhi has played six games (11inns), Patel has three games (6inns) and Santner two games (4inns), he's still got the average advantage.
For those wondering: Sodhi has a better batting average (36.66) than Tim Seifert (26.33) and Jimmy Neesham (29.80).
Stags lefty seamer Ryan McCone tore through the Knights batting line up in the second innings to kinda set up the win, taking 5w to go with his 2w in the first innings. McCone now has 21w @ 21.52avg and among a stacked Stags unit, that has him slightly behind Seth Rance's 18.86avg, but ahead of Doug Bracewell (24.29avg) and Blair Tickner (25.81avg).
Finally, Greg Hay went back to back with scores of 52 and 59. This gives Hay scores of 158, 52 and 59 in his last 3inns, as well as five 50+ scores in 8inns this season. Remember the history with Hay here as he averaged 60.46 last summer and has a career average of 43.68, so for him to be averaging 53.27 is merely a continuation of his domestic brilliance.
If we know that Jeet Raval and Tom Latham are locked in as Test openers for the next few years - which they are and patches of poor form should be endured - then Hay is the perfect bloke to step in for a Test here or there via injury etc. With someone like Sodhi, I'm in favour of giving the youngster with potential the chance to suss out Test cricket and if we apply that to a batting context, I'd go with a youngster like Will Young if a long-term gap opened up.
To do a job for a Test, or a series while Latham or Raval is absent though, Hay is the guy. He's racked up all sorts of Plunket Shield runs and no one who is currently on the domestic circuit, has the record that Hay has.
Alright, one more thing for you domestic cricket freaks...
We know Sodhi is going alright in the Plunket Shield and tends to stack up Plunket Shield wickets. Along with Sodhi's leggies though, we had Wellington's Deanna Doughty and Amelia Kerr finish 1st and 4th in women's 50-over wickets. That's three leggies among the leading wicket-takers in the main competitions, glorious.
Hit an ad to support the Domestic Cricket Daily chat.
And please support the Niche Cache was we try to build our base on Patreon. Support the underdogs as best you can, a little goes a long way.
Peace and love 27.