Central Hinds had a season to forget the last time around with 2 wins in 10 Super Smash games + 2 wins in 10 HBJ Games (6 abandoned). However, there is potential in this side and it's a team whose bowling attack looks potent as compared to most of the other teams. The issue lies with their batting strength, & it would require the White Ferns' (those to have represented at any stage of their career) to deliver. I have hopes and belief in this unit, it looks promising keeping their resources in mind.
HISTORY OF HINDS IN THE T20 DOMESTIC COMPETITIONS
Hinds have had a topsy-turvy ride in the history of NZ T20 competitions. They emerged victorious in 2009/10 and were runners-up in two seasons. Besides that, they have lacked enough strength to compete with the other teams in order to consistently nail down a top 3 spot.
2009/10 - Champions (State League T20)
SQUAD FOR SUPER SMASH 2022
WHAT WENT WRONG LAST YEAR
Over-reliance on Jess Watkin for spin duties:
Spin department = Jess Watkin. That's pretty much what the story was last year for the Hinds as the skipper didn't get any support for other spinners. Jess delivered in each phase of the innings with either wickets or economical bowling.
I am certain that this year, the picture is going to look very different. This year they have a rapidly-emerging Ashtuti Kumar, an attacking Georgia Atkinson with new-found phase coverage, a promising leggie in Ocean Bartlett, & the part-time spin of Mikaela Greig if needed. Things will be different for sure. Bartlett was all over the place & that can happen with a young player. It's hard to have perfect + consistent control as a wrist-spinner & even more so when you are a developing teen.
The Georgia Atkinson move:
This was a very interesting development that I observed last year. Georgia Atkinson played some vital cameos down the order with some bluesy shots. She kept reversing against the pacers most of the time or went well behind to access the fine leg region. The intent was there and so was the execution with what she was trying to do.
But the problem started when she was promoted after those two cameos. She started batting at #3 to maximize the powerplay and I liked the thought process of what Hinds were looking to do. It made sense, but it's something that they could have avoided tampering with since it was going well for her down the order. When the field is spread out post-PP, Atkinson played those unorthodox shots to score runs & it was easier doing that with the spread-out field + the lengths that the bowlers look to bowl at the death.
But when she walked in early at #3, it didn't make much sense for her to play those same shots. Only 2 fielders are out + different lengths + swing factor + packed in-fields reduced the efficiency of her shots massively. I get how there is very rarely a fielder placed at third or fine leg irrespective of the PP or non-PP, but there is much more than just the field settings for such shots to come off.
Hinds had the joint-lowest run-rate in the PP last season. When we break it down player-by-player, the picture doesn't look good as not a single player with a decent sample size had an SR of 100. This is where I felt Nat Dodd's role kind of played a part. She anchors, but it comes at a cost when there is no intent in the PP with a high dot ball %. Dodd was dismissed only once in the PP which was incredible, but her 71 runs came in 92 balls in a phase meant to be dominated.
It is not common to see 11 batters having batted in the powerplay across 10 games, but such was the shuffle that Hinds were doing as a consequence of their losses. They had their most successful powerplay in the very first game when they scored 46/0, but what followed after that was not so impressive. As the losses piled up, the changes kept coming. Although, one needs to be mindful that the backend saw games where I felt Hinds were looking to give some games to the inexperienced batters, and hence, the changes were made + the injury factor could have been at play in other games, but it's merely speculation from me. All-in-all, their top-order never looked settled with so regular changes as the results didn't go in their favor.
Another area where things didn't pan out well for the Hinds despite having the bowlers. Hinds were successful at either keeping it tight or taking wickets in a phase of the innings. Wickets didn't come in the powerplay and middle, but they kept it tight. Wickets came at the death, but the economy was very high. Hannah Rowe bowled 11 overs for 99 runs & Melissa Hansen bowled 5 overs for 57 runs. Both these bowlers came under attack from Lea Tahuhu's ridiculous onslaught that saw Canterbury pull off a miracle twice!
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
1 - Mikaela Greig:
Greig is an exciting middle-order batter with a strong game against spin. It won't be long before she looks to use her feet against spin and tonk the ball down the ground. But, consistency will be the key for her as it's been an issue that has stalled her progress.
2 - Jess Watkin: Watkin is arguably the best player in this side for the T20 format with what she brings. The skipper can clear the ropes against the spinner & she hits them very cleanly. There are a few batters in New Zealand who have power-hitting skills, but most of them prefer their big hits to one side of the ground. With Watkin, you get a player who can access both sides of the ground. She is an excellent timer of the ball through the off against the pacers & launches the spinners from the get-go. I expect her to have one of the best Super Smash seasons this year and would want to see her earn a return to the New Zealand T20I side.
3 - Natalie Dodd: Auckland has Saachi Shahri, but Central Hinds have Nat Dodd. An individual with a massive experience and a bag full of runs and 100s in the 50-overs. She is an anchor who looks to bide her time and allows others around her to play with freedom. She has the best cover drive in New Zealand and one of the best techniques all-in-all.
4 - Rosemary Mair: I see Rosemary Mair as a bowler with a monster potential to succeed as a powerplay bowler. Hinds gave her the new ball in the HBJ in the last few games, but Mair was all over the place. New Zealand has many swing bowlers and you'd get multiple such bowlers in every team. But, there are very few bowlers in the entire system who can seam the ball both ways + swing + nail the yorkers & Rosemary Mair is one of the very few names that I know. All she needs to find the right lengths with the new ball and continue to hit that length consistently rather than trying too hard with different variations upfront. The day she starts hitting the good length on and just outside the off, you'd see the destruction she can cause with the new ball.
5 - Kerry Tomlinson: Tomlinson comes into the Super Smash with plenty of game time on her back. She was involved with the Fair Break XI and just like the other Hinds players, she was also involved in the Mike Shrimpton Trophy. She was also involved as the assistant coach with the Central Districts U-19 Women's team recently. She is expected to bat at #5 unless Cunningham is left out which should see Kerry bat at #3. She has an excellent game against spin to thrive as a middle-order batter with an ability to accelerate when needed.
6 - Melissa Hansen: Hinds' designated death-overs bowler, Melissa Hansen knows only one thing, i.e. - to take wickets! Bowling at the death is riddled with risks, but can also be rewarding. Hansen found that out last year as she took a few wickets, but also conceded plenty of runs. Although, most of it was because of what Lea Tahuhu did. Hansen still had the best average out of all bowlers who bowled at the death last season for the Hinds. She bowls attacking lines and targets the stumps with a good pace and that's why she succeeds. Batters who thrive at scoring off such lines succeed against her & Tahuhu was the prime example. There is promise & plenty of it!
7 - Georgia Atkinson: She is one of the most exciting players for me to watch in this team. A very interesting wrist-spinner who has got all the funky shots in her armory. Hinds recently had to use her at the death in a rain-curtailed HBJ game & she did an incredible job. I wait to see if that performance would have opened up an option for the Hinds to use in the last 5 overs in the T20 format. It's an option worth exploring and she should be given an over in that phase or could even be tried out in the PP. A distribution of 1-2-1 could actually provide to be very fruitful.
8 - Ashtuti Kumar: I watched Ashtuti for the first time in the U-19s and the first thing that struck me was her run-up which looked eerily similar to Nathan Lyon. I can't say it for certain as I don't know, but can only guess she has intentionally looked to replicate Lyon's action. There's a definite influence, though. Ashtuti is a talented and willy off-spinner. Hinds had a rough time in their spin department with no support for Watkin, but I expect Ashtuti & Atkinson to do much better this year after having tracked both players.