Ben Jones looks at how the Northern Superchargers performed on draft-day, and how their squad is shaping up.
Squad: Ben Stokes, Aaron Finch, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Chris Lynn, Adil Rashid, Adam Lyth, David Willey, Olly Stone, Matthew Potts, Matty Fisher, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Harry Brook, Brydon Carse, Callum Parkinson, John Simpson
Draft Activity: Olly Stone (48k), Matthew Potts (48k), Matty Fisher (40k), Harry Brook (32k), Callum Parkinson (24k)
A relatively quiet day for Northern Superchargers. They only had five picks in the draft, all of them in later rounds, so it was always likely to be putting finishing touches to a squad still largely unchanged from the first draft. Three local right-arm seamers (Fisher, Potts, Stone) fill the obvious gap in seam bowling unit. Yorkshire’s Harry Brook is a young batsman unlikely to see much game time among the star-studded batting order in Leeds.
A potential opening pair of Chris Lynn and Adam Lyth is very exciting. Lyth’s strike rate of 158 in the last two years is right up their with the best top order players in the world, while Lynn’s explosive capability needs no introduction. A LHB/RHB pair to make things even sweeter, and Northern have got themselves a very destructive set-up – albeit one which may be vulnerable to spin.
While Aaron Finch has been dreadfully out of form, he can slot in at No.3 with his all-round excellence, one of only two players to strike at over 150 against both pace and spin bowling in T20. It is an elite top three in the context of the tournament. The opportunity to use David Willey up the order, exploiting his left-handedness and strength against spin, only increases the sense that Northern’s batting order is going to be something special.
The spin combination of Adil Rashid and Mujeeb ur Rahman is the best in the league. English fans will need no introduction to their greatest white ball spinner, and his looping variations, while Mujeeb forms a lovely contrast, darting the ball through but equally mysterious. Mujeeb is a young man, but has considerable experience bowling with the new ball – no spinner has bowled more Powerplay deliveries in the last four years than the Afghan, and none have more wickets. That leaves Rashid free to twirl away in the middle overs, spreading Northern’s primary threat throughout the innings. An added sub-plot is that Rashid has struggled to get overseas league contracts, notably ignored in the IPL auction last week; partly that’s a function of India’s spin talent, but the opportunity to shine in a high profile competition on home soil is only going to help his case. On the sly, Callum Parkinson may prove to be a very canny pickup as well, his SLA taking a wicket every 16 balls through the middle overs. If the Headingley pitches take turn, he may leapfrog some of the seamers.
Before the draft, Willey was the only quality seamer on Northern’s books. They needed to get bodies through the door when it came to their pace bowling, and they managed to do so – but with caveats. Olly Stone is a good T20 bowler, but there will be concern that his promising Test debut may affect his availability come the summer, and while Matty Potts is a talented young bowler he is still very inexperienced. Matthew Fisher had an excellent 2020 Blast campaign (taking 8 wickets in 4 matches), but his T20 record prior to this season has been iffy. All of the Northern quicks have clear upsides, but they all have strings attached.
When Ben Stokes is available, the batting order lengthens out rather nicely, but in his absence it may well be a bit top-heavy. Willey is a proven hitter but his best work has come up the order, and while Brydon Carse has been excellent when given the opportunity (a death over strike rate of 158), it’s from only a handful of matches. Darren Lehmann’s T20 sides have often erred towards being top-heavy, and it does not seem to be a tactical flaw that concerns him, but it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see a traditionally top order player like Tom Kohler-Cadmore drop down the order, to cover the gaps.
Potential XI: Lynn, Lyth, Finch, Kohler-Cadmore, Simpson +, Willey, Carse, Rashid, Mujeeb, Fisher, Stone
Ben Jones is an analyst at CricViz.