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New Zealand v Australia 2024

New Zealand captain Mitchell Santner makes slow failure after promotion to No.3

Santner No.3 promotion backfired | NZ vs AUS 2024
by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

New Zealand T20I skipper Mitchell Santner‘s promotion to No.3 backfired in his team’s 72-run loss to Australia in the second T20I, at Auckland.

Santner, standing in for the injured Kane Williamson – their regular skipper – struggled to get going in their chase of 175, managing seven off his first 12 balls before he was dismissed by Nathan Ellis, failing to read a slower one and bottom-edging it onto his off stump. His dismissal left the Kiwis on 26-3, which was soon 29-4, with Mark Chapman being dismissed for two.

Record defeat for New Zealand

Santner was one of six New Zealand batters to be dismissed for single digits, as the hosts were bundled out for 102, their biggest T20I defeat to Australia in terms of runs.

A change to New Zealand’s batting order was necessitated after Devon Conway, their usual opener, was injured while fielding. Conway walked off the field after being hit on his thumb in the second over of Australia’s innings, and left the ground thereafter.

A statement by the Black Caps revealed that X-rays had cleared Conway of an obvious fracture, but he will be reviewed again a day after the game.

With Conway not available to bat, Will Young opened the batting with Finn Allen, after which Santner walked in to bat. Will Young came into the XI in the place of Rachin Ravindra, their usual No.3, who missed the match due to pain in his left knee after the first T20I.

Conway was seen padded up, ready to bat at No.11 if needed but eventually ended up absent hurt when the equation went beyond New Zealand’s reach.

Coach’s decision to play Santner at three

Eight out of Santner’s 13 balls were dots, as the pressure mounted on the New Zealand middle order amid a flurry of wickets. Before he hit a solitary boundary, he was tested with some short-pitched stuff by Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.

It isn’t the first time Santner has batted at three in T20Is though. He’s batted everywhere from three to eight, and has played two-down four times, even scoring his career-best 77* off 42 against the Netherlands a couple of years ago at the same position. His other two scores at No.3 are 13 (11) and 1 (4).

Santner later revealed that the decision to bat at three was made by coach Gary Stead.

“It was Gary [Stead’s] decision [to bat at No.3],” Santner said. “It was unfortunate with Dev [Conway]. But some good news, it’s not broken.”

“Wickets in the powerplay, they way they hit their hard lengths, playing those cross-bat shots were quite difficult. Maybe we could have soaked it up a bit longer.”

It was an experiment that didn’t pay off, and not everyone was particularly impressed with his batting promotion, with a few reactions surfacing on social media.


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