According to New Zealand head coach Gary Stead, Mitchell Santner needs to satisfy two requirements to be given a chance in the playing XI in the two-match Test series against Pakistan starting Saturday (December 26). The 28-year-old needs to be more attacking with the ball and don the role of an all-rounder.
After being axed from red-ball cricket following the Boxing Day Test against Australia last year, Mitchell Santner got the green light for the upcoming home Test series against Pakistan. This was because the selection committee didn’t want to risk first-choice spinner Ajaz Patel, who recently recovered from a niggling calf injury.
Gary Stead acknowledged Mitchell Santner’s credentials in limited-overs matches, and added that the team wants the left-arm spinner to bowl attacking lines and lengths in Test cricket.
“We know that Mitch in white-ball cricket has been a fine bowler for us...I think what we’re looking at is how he keeps being an attacking force in red-ball cricket as well. He’s trying to get a bit more drop on the ball,” Stead told reporters on a conference call on Tuesday (December 22).
‘If Mitchell Santner does play, he’d likely play in that No. 7 position,’ says Gary Stead
Ever since 25-year-old fast bowler Kyle Jamieson burst onto the international scene in February this year, New Zealand’s four-pronged pace attack comprising of Jamieson, Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner has been a force to reckon with.
Gary Stead confirmed there will be no tinkering with the pace battery, and that there will be a face-off between Mitchell Santner and Daryl Mitchell for the all-rounder’s place at No. 7.
“If Mitch does play, he’d likely play in that No. 7 position. The key thing was the balance of the team we are looking for. We would be unlikely to break up that four-pronged bowling attack...If we are going down that line-up, it was more about the ability to bat seven for us,” Stead explained.
In 22 Tests, Mitchell Santner has picked up 39 wickets at a strike rate of 96.05, and scored 741 runs at an average of 25.55 including one century and two fifties. The 37-year-old Daryl Mitchell is yet to play for New Zealand.
Published 22 Dec 2020, 13:51 IST