Santner goes ‘the other way’ to rediscover his Test bowling

New Zealand
New Zealand ended day three of the Mount Maunganui Test against South Africa in command, leading by 528 runs in the second innings. This was after South Africa were bowled out for 162 in the first innings, with Mitchell Santner picking up 3 for 34 with his left-arm spin. Santner’s effort, along with Matt Henry and Kyle Jamieson’s, gave the hosts a massive 349-run lead in the first innings. Playing only his second Test in more than two-and-a-half years, Santner spoke of the changes he has made in his bowling in the longest format.

“I felt like I was getting too quick at the crease, and getting a bit long. It was through, I guess, a lot of white-ball bowling,” he said. “But I’ve gone the other way now: tried to give it a rip again, and [go a] little bit slow at the crease, and get my momentum from the crease. That’s what I tried to do at the World Cup… and it has flown into my red-ball bowling.”

With 16 wickets at 28.06, Santner was New Zealand’s highest wicket-taker at the ODI World Cup in India last year. While seamer-friendly conditions at home allow New Zealand to field just the sole spinner, if any, Santner wants to cement his position when they tour the subcontinent to play Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and India later in the year.

“Usually in the home summer, it is one spinner or that kind of allrounder role,” Santner said. “But looking forward, it’s nice to have a consistent Test series in the sub-continent – I think we’ve got six games. So it’ll be nice to go there as a spin unit and ply our crafts. Bangladesh [series last year] was good; we spoke a lot, [and had] good chats… it’ll be a good opportunity to get stuck in and bowl some overs [in the sub-continent].”

Santner noticed some turn on the pitch in Mount Maunganui, and expected to get slower as the game progresses.

“Usually in the first innings, when it’s flat, you do a role – [bowl] on a good length – and let the other boys do their thing at the other end,” he said. “It is nice to see it turn a little bit: we can play around with the position at the crease, [with the] seam, [and] slight change of pace. Mount is traditionally slower than where we are going to now.

“Here I can enjoy the pitch, which is nice… it might do a little bit more tomorrow. Day five maybe a little bit more, but it usually slows down a lot in nature, where it is more of a grind to get your wickets.”

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