'Exciting' Sodhi signs contract with Knights

NEW KNIGHT: Spinner Ish Sodhi in action.
NEW KNIGHT: Spinner Ish Sodhi in action.

Northern Knights coach Grant Bradburn predicts a big future for teenage legspinner Ish Sodhi.

The New Zealand under-19 representative is the new face in the Northern Districts squad of contracted players for the upcoming 2012/13 season. The 19-year-old has joined the Knights after playing for Auckland at age-group level and Bradburn labelled Sodhi "an exciting prospect".

"He has some real special gifts," Bradburn said.

"Legspinning is a valuable art in New Zealand - the likes of Tarun Nethula and Todd Astle have been very successful domestically - and Ish has real potential to go a long way in the game.

"He's tall, very aggressive and has a number of tricks up his sleeve."

In naming the 14 contracted players, Bradburn said they had closely monitored Sodhi's development in recent seasons. "He's played against us for the A's and he's also been training with us quite often, with a lot of our boys actually training at Papatoetoe (Sodhi's Auckland club).

"We've had good communication and open discussions over the last year with him about coming down here, he knows about our environment and selection policy, and he's recognised that with two or three other spinners commanding game time in Auckland that there's an opportunity with us.

Sodhi took 43 wickets in Auckland club cricket last summer and was used as a net bowler by the Black Caps at the Seddon Park test against South Africa earlier this year. He will face challenges for a place in the side from fellow young spin bowlers Mitchell Santner and Josef Walker.

The Knights filled their contracted list yesterday, with Brett Hampton, Scott Styris, Bradley Scott and Anurag Verma joining Sodhi among the 14 contracted players.

Hampton, a 21-year-old from Bay of Plenty, received his first contract after impressing with the ND A side last season and in brief appearances for the Knights. The allrounder is a hard-hitting batsman capable of launching the ball prodigious distances and should push hard for a starting spot in the Knights' HRV Cup Twenty20 and one-day sides.

Styris, who has signed with the Hobart Hurricanes for the Australian Twenty20 Big Bash League this summer, will only play in the Twenty20 campaign for the Knights, while Scott and Verma battled injuries last season. Pace bowler Andrew Mathieson has joined the Central Stags.

The Knights haven't named a wicketkeeper among their contracted players, following the recent retirement of Peter McGlashan. While wicketkeeper-batsman B J Watling is one of six Knights with a New Zealand Cricket contract, he's unlikely to be available for most of the domestic season, opening the likelihood the association will import a glovesman for the summer.

"We won't be short of a wicketkeeper, that's for sure," Bradburn said.

"There's a number of options we are working through and we are confident we will be very well served. It's a pivotal position in all formats and we're aware we need to fill it with a quality keeper who is dynamic and can score runs."

Bradburn said he "couldn't be happier" with the contracted list, and can add six Black Caps - Watling, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson, Tim Southee, Daniel Flynn and Trent Boult - when they are not on international duty.

"The calibre of senior players in our area is as the core of our success.

"The contracted players know they have no guarantee of making the playing XI however - we have a performance culture and a lot of competition for spots in the team."


Northern Knights contracted players: Graeme Aldridge, Corey Anderson, Brent Arnel, James Baker, Anton Devcich, Brett Hampton, James Marshall, Daryl Mitchell, Bradley Scott, Ish Sodhi, Scott Styris, Anurag Verma, Brad Wilson, Joseph Yovich.

Waikato Times