Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

Question And Answer Session With Mitchell Santner

Question And Answer Session With Mitchell Santner

Mitchell Santner had an ICC World T20 to remember in finishing as one of the leading wicket-takers for New Zealand in their run to the semi-finals in India.

Now Mitchell is set to make his NatWest T20 Blast debut for Worcestershire Rapids in Friday's home clash with Durham Jets.

Here Mitchell talks about his winter experiences with the Black Caps, why he has opted to play county cricket for the first time and his hopes and ambitions for the future in a Question And Answer session with the Worcestershire CCC website.

Question: What was the aim behind wanting to play county cricket?

Mitchell Santner: "Just to improve my game. we've got a bit of time off now for New Zealand and I thought it was a great time to come over and try and play some county cricket and experience that kind of level of cricket with the ball swinging and stuff like that.

"There is added pressure on being a pro (overseas player) as well so I am looking forward to the challenge."

Question: Did you get a bit of a break since the ICC World T20?

Mitchell Santner: "It was good to have a few days off after the end of the season. It was quite long and I've played quite a lot of cricket over the summer.

"It was good to have a few days off but then also get back into hitting balls and stuff before I came over here. I had a week or so off before getting back into it."

Question: You've had a very busy winter and played all formats of the game for New Zealand?

Mitchell Santner: "That was always the goal, the dream, to play all three formats for New Zealand. I've been lucky enough to play a few games in each format now so it's just about continuing making good performances, helping the team.

"Obviously the goal is to stay in all three formats for a few years."

Question: Will playing in this country help with that goal?

Mitchell Santner: "I think so. The swinging ball is obviously something a little bit different to back home. It does swing a little bit but the Duke tends to swing a little bit more. I guess that's one good reason coming over here, playing in these conditions.

"You got to keep your technique pretty tight when it is swinging like that. It should be a good experience and hopefully I can help Worcestershire out with a few wins."

Question: You came here on the back of a great ICC World T20?

Mitchell Santner: "Myself and Ish Sodhi were lucky enough to have played on a couple of wickets that spun. There is that added pressure when it is spinning to get wickets.

"As a spin group, it was quite good to see. I think we got nine wickets out of 10 in the first game (versus India). I guess it is always a bit different to back home."

Question: "What was it like playing in front of big crowds in a big tournament?

Mitchell Santner: "It was something different. In India, the fans love their cricket. I think there were about 50,000 for the first game against India and it was incredibly loud.

"You couldn't hear anything. To silence the crowd in that first game was pretty special."

Question: Was it a feeling of disappointment to lose in the semi-finals after playing so well?

Mitchell Santner: "It is disappointing. You never want to lose a game, especially in a semi-final. "But what we did well was adapt to conditions. We were travelling quite a bit and had a lot of different wickets.

"To make the semi-finals was not a bad effort but it was a bitter disappointment not to make it through to the final but that's T20 cricket, that's the nature of it.

"One guy can take it away from you and Jason Roy batted tremendously well and England deserved it."

Question: Did you get the chance to speak to Moeen Ali during the tournament?

Mitchell Santner: "I didn't actually. I've spoken to him in the last few days over here and it has been good to pick his brain about bowling over here and what to do."

Question: How big an infuence was Daniel Vettori on you?

Mitchell Santner: "I guess he was the reason I changed to bowling spin. I only started bowling spin when I was 15.

"I was lucky enough to watch a lot of cricket, a lot of him bowling, and I was lucky enough to play with him for a few games in my first season.

"It was quite good to pick his brain and he taught me more of the tactical side of bowling, setting batsmen up rather than trying to bowl 'miracle' balls all the time which is obviously pretty hard to do!

"I still keep in contact with him. He has been a role model. I bowled medium pace before. I was too small. I was 17 when I started growing. I wasn't going to get very far bowling seamers so I guessed it looked a bit easier than running in off the long run!"

Question: It will be nice if you have as long a career as Vettori?

Mitchell Santner: "That's the goal, to play for a few years in all three formats like he did. He is a legend of New Zealand cricket.

"If I have half as good a career as him, it will not be too bad!"

Question: Worcestershire have done well in recent T20 Blast competitions. You will be looking to add to the strength of side?

Mitchell Santner: "I guess that is the goal, to help the team win no matter what it takes. They have done pretty well in the last few T20 competitions.

"I talked to Colin Munro and Mitchell McClenaghan about what to kind of expect, what the wickets are going to do.

"T20 cricket these days is played on pretty flat wickets but I am excited and looking forward to that competition starting."

Question: Did you speak to them about coming to Worcestershire?

Mitchell Santner: "I think there were a couple of offers but after talking to Munners and Mitch about Worcestershire, I figured it was a good place to come.

"They said the guys were a good bunch of lads. It is quite a young group which I guess is different from county cricket but good.

"I'm 24, that is pretty old! They have got a good future ahead of them."

Question: Is your batting something you are keen to develop?

Mitchell Santner: "For sure. I guess I want to be that genuine all-rounder. It is the role I want. I guess it is quite tough to find time to work on both equally but you have to find that way.

"I guess if you are bowling well, you might spend a little more time on your batting and vice versa and go from there.

"I used to be more of a batter when I was younger but finding that time between bowling and batting is tough.

"But one good thing is if you fail with the bat, or the ball, you've got the chance with the other skill to make up for it and help the team out.

"That is what I really want to do, be that genuine all-rounder, rather than a bowler who bats, make the team on both ability with batting and bowling.

"That is the end result I want."

Question: "It's been a fantastic time for NewZealand cricket?

Mitchell Santner: "It is the nature of cricket that Brendon McCullum brought to the team, that kind of fearless cricket and not worrying too much about failure.

"When it comes off, it is good to watch and that is what McCullum used to do. That was a hell of a series with England last year when the average score was over 350.

"It makes it more exciting cricket to watch but it is pretty tough on your economy rate!"

Question: "You've teamed up at New Road with Matt Henry. How good a player is he?

Mitchell Santner: "I think he is going to be a big part of New Zealand cricket. He has got the ability to swing the ball with pace and bowls in pretty good areas.

"He had a good one-day campaign for New Zealand last year and he showed in Test cricket that he can take wickets as well.

"He is going to be one of those bowlers for the future. He is still only 24."