Super Smash Wildness, 12 Days of Flying Kiwis Xmas, plus some January Transfer Window suspense
TNC Variety Show 46
The Niche Cast - God SZN (Blackcaps, Ajaz Patel, Super Smash)
Flying Kiwis – December 22 (Football)
Wild Night of Super Smash…
Over the next few weeks I’ll use the email to drop Super Smash notes and last night’s weird epic between Northern and Canterbury is a great place to start. As the universe tends to provide, the stars aligned after I dropped Katene Clarke and Eden Carson as my favourite Super Smash players on the Variety Show podcast. While batting, Clarke was pinned in the hip by an Ed Nuttall delivery and was unable to run. Clarke then smacked 31 runs off 11 deliveries (4 sixes) to finish the Nuttall over. Unable to contribute further, Clarke left the field and while doing so he gave a youngster his gloves.
Clarke is a frisky hitter from Counties Manukau and I’ve got him as the best fielder in the Super Smash. His style of cricket made him my favourite, then he went bonkers while injured and also gave his gloves to a fan. That’s beautiful.
Clarke soon needed some gloves as he had to head back out to bat alongside Trent Boult (winning six hitta) after Northern fumbled their run chase. As discussed on yesterday’s Niche Cast, Bay Oval is Aotearoa’s most spinny deck and this was on display in a contest that definitely included some fun slugging - also lots of spin bowling funk. Ish Sodhi and Joe Walker combined for 5 wickets while Canterbury’s spinners (Todd Astle, Cole McConchie, Blake Coburn) combined for 4 wickets.
All spinners conceded less than 6rpo while Scott Kuggeleijn, Nuttall and Henry Shipley conceded over 10rpo. The first Blackcaps Test will be at Bay Oval and as Tauranga already produced spinny stuff for previous Tests, then this Super Smash game had spin shining; expect Rachin Ravindra to be a likely selection for New Years day.
Trent Boult - one of the world’s best T20 seamers.
T20I in 2021: 23w @ 18avg/7rpo/15.3sr.
T20I Career: 62w @ 21.69avg/8rpo/16sr.
T20 Career: 172w @ 25.49avg/8rpo/18.8sr.
Anurag Verma - low key one of Aotearoa’s best T20 seamers.
T20 Career: 56w @ 22.85avg/8.69rpo/15.7sr.
2021 Super Smash: 8w @ 10.87avg/6.60rpo/9.8sr.
Matt Henry - Plunket Shield and Super Smash dominance
2021 Plunket Shield: 2nd - 21w @ 17.76avg/2.48rpo/42.9sr.
2021 Super Smash: 3rd - 8w @ 12.37avg/6.18rpo/12sr
One key thing to watch for in Northern’s upcoming games is Ish Sodhi’s craft. Sodhi has started the Super Smash with 2w @ 5.33rpo/18sr and has the ball moving both ways against batsmen who aren’t the same calibre as T20I jokers at the T20 World Cup. Against Auckand, Sodhi showcased all his tricks and Lockie Ferguson was playing around the wrongie as if he couldn’t pick it. Against Canterbury, Sodhi grabbed Todd Astle’s inside edge and had a stumping chance past Astle’s outside edge; spinning the ball both ways against a fellow leggie.
Sodhi is a world-class white ball spinner and that feels swept under the rug when pondering Aotearoa’s legit world-class cricketers. Coming back to the Super Smash has Sodhi coming up against fellow Blackcaps who provide fun match up battles, as well as weaker domestic batsmen who struggle to consistently pick Sodhi.
That is why Northern is my most watchable team. Sodhi is and will be fun to watch, Clarke is my favourite Super Smash player and then someone like Verma is always effective. Colin de Grandhomme - goes without saying. Matt Fisher is a sizzling young speed seamer as well.
Unfortunately for Northern women, they aren’t in the same realm. Jeet Raval has consistently stated their fielding standards and ambitions, while Northern women are full of little mishaps that add up over the course of a game. That dynamic is interesting, however the fact that Northern are super young and adjusting to the higher level of play is at play here.
Kate Anderson, Nensi Patel and Brooke Halliday are the three main players for Northern. Anderson and Patel are good players who will be in the White Ferns mix eventually, although neither is dominant at Super Smash level. Halliday was one of two White Ferns who earned selection based on warm up game performances vs England and hasn’t kicked on - kinda to be expected when selecting from chill warm up games.
Halliday started with two 50s vs England and her next eight innings were alright (28avg) in losing White Ferns efforts. In T20I cricket though, Halliday averages 13 across nine games and in 57 T20 games Halliday averages 15. In this Super Smash campaign Halliday has 27 runs in three games @ 9avg and has been captain for all her three games - all losses.
That clearly tells us that Halliday isn’t as good a T20 player as one-day, plus Northern rely heavily on their best players who are all younger ladies with potential. Anderson, Patel and Halliday are not consistent forces in domestic cricket and ideally you would have experienced talent alongside them (like Canterbury, Otago, Auckland) to allow them to brew. This also tells the tale of the biggest yarn in Aotearoa women’s cricket; the best performers vs players with potential.
To win a home World Cup, the White Ferns need as many ‘best performers’ as possible. Instead their selection has been skewed immensely towards those with potential (who haven’t done much in domestic cricket to even warrant being in the mix) and hence the White Ferns lose. Frances Mackay is one of three key best performers and is currently Canterbury’s leading batter and bowler…
Bat: 153 runs @ 76.50avg/95sr.
Ball: 7w @ 12.28avg/5.37rpo/13.7sr.
Prior to today’s Wellington vs Auckland games, Mackay was first in wickets and third in runs. Mackay has consistently been top-five in Super Smash and HBJ Shield runs/wickets and along with Otago’s Kate Ebrahim, they have dominated Aotearoa domestic cricket. These two need to be in the White Ferns 1st 11 and further dominance will only make it kinda disgusting if they are once again overlooked.
The third ‘best performer’ is Holly Huddleston. Solid seamer and lower order slugger with experience who will be lacing up for Auckland today.
12 Days of Flying Kiwis Xmas
‘Tis the festive season so here’s a celebration with a dozen top shelf goals scored by Aotearoa’s finest footballers over the last year. No rhyme or reason other than the clips that I can find. Also keeping it to one banger per baller. Gotta be fair about it. This is a time for giving after all.
1) Joe Bell, Viking vs Rosengard, 30 August
2) Chris Wood, Burnley vs Wolves, 25 April
3) Olivia Chance, Brisbane Roar vs Melbourne Victory, 4 April
4) Sarpreet Singh, Regensburg vs Hannover, 25 October
5) Ryan Thomas, PSV vs Sparta Rotterdam, 4 October
6) Ria Percival, Tottenham vs Manchester United, 8 November
7) Elijah Just, FC Helsingør vs Lyngby, 21 August
8) Bill Tuiloma, Portland Timbers vs Seattle Sounders, 9 May
9) CJ Bott, Vålerenga vs Klepp, 14 November
10) Francis De Vries, IFK Värnamo vs Eskilstuna, 2 November
11) Ryan De Vries, Sligo Rovers vs St Pat’s Athletic, 5 November
12) Emma Rolston, Arna-Bjørnar vs Stabæk, 30 August
Flying Kiwis Transfer Season
I’m in the process of writing a big old primer for the January window in the expectation that there could be as many as a dozen or more kiwi footballers on the move when that sucker opens. January isn’t always the best time for value in the transfer market but there are a number of players who seem poised for a fresh club. From the obvious ones candidates like Joe Bell and maybe Libby Cacace. To free agents like Winston Reid and CJ Bott. To some sneaky loan-out candidates. There’s been an unfortunate pile-up of kiwi players who’ve copped recent rejections in America too which could lead to new footballing pastures. Rosie White, Katie Bowen, Noah Billingsley, Elliot Collier, Daisy Cleverley, Jacqui Hand... anyone who’s been playing USL.
Doubt I’ll finish that one until some point next week, what with the Holiday season and all, so here’s a sneak preview of the Michael Woud to Kyoto Sanga move which initially read like a curious rumour but the more research I did the more that one felt like a locked-on impending deal...
Michael Woud - Almere City (Dutch Eerste Divisie)
This time a year ago, things were looking swell for Almere City and Michael Woud. He’d joined on loan from top flight Willem II but with Almere well in position to threaten promotion to that very same top flight and Willem II in danger of the drop (plus regardless they didn’t seem likely to be offering him the number one jersey any time soon), Michael Woud chose to sign on permanent terms with second tier Almere City.
Unfortunately they faded fast down the final quarter of the season and got thrashed in the playoffs. And this season has been pretty bad. One bad result after another and Woud’s form has suffered as a consequence. He’s currently out injured with a shoulder injury, hasn’t featured for a month, and his team are second to last in the second tier. So maybe not the worst time to indulge some foreign transfer interest.
Kyoto Sanga FC just finished second in the Japanese J2 League. Automatic promotion to the top division and that means it’s time to stock up on new players (having already locked in several outfield signings)... at the same time as Almere City are maybe more open to incoming transfer fees given the threat of relegation. Michael Woud had a very solid game against Japan at the Olympic earlier in the year, the NZers taking the hosts all the way to penalties, and it didn’t go unnoticed. This isn’t mere interest either. This is legit confirmed transfer discussion...
Teun Jacobs, Almere City technical director: “It is true that we are currently in talks with Kyoto Sanga FC and I expect that we will get there. The talks are heading in the right direction but there is still a final blow to be done. The signatures have not yet been placed.”
Japanese sources had already spoke of a formal offer and ongoing chats so there’s a very decent chance that this one goes through very soon after the window opens on New Years Day.