Incepted in 2005-06, Super Smash - the most popular and entertaining twenty20 tournament of New Zealand - is all set to return for its fifteenth season. The tournament, which was previously sponsored by State Twenty20, HRV Twenty20, Georgie Pie and McDonald's, has been rebranded as Dream11 Super Smash for this edition. As usual, the tournament will feature six teams - Knights, Auckland Aces, Central Stags, Otago Volts, Wellington Firebirds and Canterbury Kings. The league stage will comprise 30 matches followed by the ‘Elimination Final’ and the final. The Super Smash 2019-20 will be played across nine different venues and is scheduled to run from 13 December 2019 till 19 January 2020.
The six competing teams will play in a double round-robin format during the league stage i.e. each team will face every other team twice before the top three teams are determined who will then advance to the knockout stage comprising the Elimination Final and the final. At the end of the league stage, the top-ranked team will automatically make its place in the final while the second and third positioned teams will battle it out in the Elimination Final in their bid to secure a place in the final.
Read on for team previews, betting odds, tips and predictions for Super Smash 2019-20.....
Knights are two-time champions and two-time runners-up of the tournament. They won their maiden title in 2013-14 when they defeated Otago Volts in the final at Hamilton. Their most recent title triumph came in the 2017-18 season when they thumped Central Stags by nine wickets in the final. Last time, the Knights topped the points table at the end of the league stage with seven wins from ten matches to make a direct entry to the final. They, however, were outplayed by Central Stags in the final to finish runners-up.
Kane Williamson, Corey Anderson, Colin de Grandhomme, Dean Brownlie and Daryl Mitchell will be the ones to watch out for with the bat. Williamson has loads of international experience and has hit nine half-centuries in T20Is while Corey Anderson and de Grandhomme are known for their big-hitting. Daryl Mitchell was one of the leading run-scorers last season with 323 runs. With the ball, the likes of Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner will pose a serious threat to the oppositions. Last time, Scott Kuggeleijn finished as the Knight's best bowler with 13 wickets.
Having won the title four times and finishing runners-up on three occasions, Auckland Aces are the most successful team of the Super Smash. They last won the tournament in 2015-16 when they beat Otago Volts in the final at New Plymouth. They finished second on the points table last season with six wins, two losses and as many washouts. The Aces went into the Preliminary Final at Auckland having won their last five league-stage encounters. They faced-off against the Central Stags in that knockout game and suffered a big 44-run defeat which ended their impressive run in the tournament.
Auckland Aces have plenty of firepower in their batting department with the likes of Colin Munro, Craig Cachopa, Glenn Phillips and Mark Chapman. Colin Munro is currently the third-best batsman in the world in the game's shortest format and can be really destructive once he gets going. Craig Cachopa was one of the team's most consistent batsmen last year with 223 runs at a strike-rate of close to 150. Mitchell McClenaghan took 17 wickets in the previous season to finish as the tournament's second-highest wicket-taker. He along with Jeet Raval, Ben Lister and Will Somerville will be the main weapons with the ball.
Otago Volts have a pretty good record in the tournament having emerged winners on two occasions. They won their first title in 2008-09 when their final against Canterbury Wizards (now Canterbury Kings) at Dunedin got abandoned due to rain and the Volts were declared winners as they had topped the league stage. In 2012-13, they lifted the trophy again after beating Wellington Firebirds in the final. Otago Volts have also finished runners-up in the 2006-07, 2013-14 and 2015-16 editions. They failed to make it past the league round last time, finishing fourth on the leaderboard with three wins and five losses.
Otago Volts have a few talented batsmen in their squad - Hamish Rutherford, Anaru Kitchen, Neil Broom and Mitch Renwick are all capable of making healthy contributions with the bat. Rutherford scored 227 runs in his eight innings last season and finished among the tournament's top ten batsmen. Anaru Kitchen was the team's next best batsman with 213 runs. In terms of bowling, Otago Volts will bank on Jacob Duffy, Nathan Smith, Michael Rippon and Josh Finnie to deliver the goods. Jacob Duffy had a successful campaign last time with 13 wickets in nine matches and the fast bowler will be expected to replicate that form this season.
Canterbury Kings are the only team to have won the tournament just once. They won the inaugural edition of the Super Smash in 2005-06 under the name of Canterbury Wizards, beating Auckland Aces in the final at the Eden Park Outer Oval. They are also two-time runners-up having made the finals in 2008-09 and 2011-12. Last year, the Kings had a dismal tournament as they ended up at the bottom of the league standings with three wins and seven defeats from their ten matches. They lost seven of their first eight matches before finishing on a high with wins in their last two matches.
Tom Latham, Cole Mcconchie, Cam Fletcher, Henry Nicholls and Chad Bowes will be the key batsmen for Canterbury Kings in this Super Smash season. While the spotlight is going to be on international stars Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls, there will also be plenty of expectations on Chad Bowes and Cole Mcconchie who were the team's most impressive batsmen last time. Matt Henry, Todd Astle, Will Williams and Andrew Ellis are quality options in the bowling department. Andrew Ellis took eight wickets in the previous edition and the Kings will look to him and Matt Henry to pick wickets upfront.
Central Stags are one of the most consistent teams in the tournament having won three times and finishing runners-up on as many occasions. Their first title win came in 2007-08 when they beat the Knights in the final at New Plymouth. They emerged victors again in 2009-10 when they crushed Auckland Aces in the final at the same venue. The Stags went on to lift the trophy for the third time in the previous Super Smash season after finishing third on the points table with five wins and four losses. They registered a 44-run victory over Auckland in the Preliminary Final before thrashing the Knights in the final by 67 runs.
Central Stags will rely mainly on veteran Ross Taylor, Tom Bruce, George Worker, Will Young and Josh Clarkson as far as batting is concerned. Tom Bruce was the tournament's second-highest run-getter last time with 353 runs at a very healthy strike-rate of 157.58. Will Young too was amongst the runs and played a couple of good knocks. The Stags are well-stocked in the bowling department with the likes of Doug Bracewell, Seth Rance, Blair Tickner, Adam Milne and Ajaz Patel. Blair Tickner was outstanding with the ball last season where he notched up 16 wickets in nine matches.
Wellington Firebirds have won the tournament on two occasions - they edged out Auckland Aces in the 2014-15 final at Hamilton and got the better of Central Stags in the final of the 2016-17 season at New Plymouth. They have also finished runners-up once - in 2012-13 when they lost to Otago Volts in the final at Dunedin. The Firebirds failed to go past the league stage in the previous Super Smash season, finishing fifth in the standings with three wins and six losses. They had a very poor ending to their campaign as they suffered four defeats in their last five fixtures.
Tom Blundell, Devon Conway, Andrew Fletcher and Michael Bracewell will be the big guns for Wellington Firebirds in terms of batting. Devon Conway topped the runs charts last season with 363 runs at an average of 45.37. Tom Blundell and Andrew Fletcher are known for their brute strength while Michael Bracewell too did a good job with the bat last time. James Neesham, who can make a big impact with both bat and ball, is another key man in this squad. Jeetan Patel, Hamish Bennett, Ollie Newton and Ben Sears will be the bowlers to watch out for. Jeetan Patel and Ollie Newton both took 11 wickets in the previous edition.
Dean Brownlie (c), Corey Anderson, James Baker, Peter Bocock, Trent Boult, Joe Carter, Henry Cooper, Sean Davey, Colin de Grandhomme, Anton Devcich, Matthew Fisher, Daniel Flynn, Zak Gibson, Brett Hampton, Nick Kelly, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Tarun Nethula, Bharat Popli, Brett Randell, Mitchell Santner, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Freddy Walker, Josef Walker, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson
Craig Cachopa (c), Robert O'Donnell, Graeme Beghin, Ben Horne, Ben Lister, Colin Munro, Danru Ferns, Finn Allen, Glenn Phillips, Jamie Brown, Jeet Raval, Mark Chapman, Matt McEwan, Michael Barry, Michael Guptill-Bunce, Mitchell McClenaghan, Sean Solia, Will Somerville
Jacob Duffy (c), Hamish Rutherford, Anaru Kitchen, Michael Rae, Josh Finnie, Neil Broom, Mark Craig, Nathan Smith, Michael Rippon, Matthew Bacon, Mitch Renwick, Max Chu, Dale Phillips, Nick Kelly, Dean Foxcroft, Camden Hawkins
Cole Mcconchie (c), Andrew Ellis, Andrew Hazeldine, Blake Coburn, Cam Fletcher, Chad Bowes, Edward Nuttall, Fraser Sheat, Henry Nicholls, Henry Shipley, Jackson Latham, Ken Mcclure, Leo Carter, Lord Jack Boyle, Matt Henry, Steven Murdoch, Theo van Woerkom, Todd Astle, Tom Latham, Will Williams
Tom Bruce (c), Doug Bracewell, Josh Clarkson, Dane Cleaver, Greg Hay, Christian Leopard, Adam Milne, Ajaz Patel, Willem Ludick, Seth Rance, Bevan Small, Ben Smith, Ross Taylor, Blair Tickner, Ben Wheeler, George Worker, Will Young
Hamish Bennett (c), Jakob Bhula, Tom Blundell, Michael Bracewell, Fraser Colson, Devon Conway, Andrew Fletcher, Jamie Gibson, Lauchie Johns, Iain McPeake, James Neesham, Ollie Newton, Malcolm Nofal, Jeetan Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Ben Sears, Logan van Beek, Peter Younghusband.
Canterbury Kings have been the least successful team in the history of the tournament. They do have a pretty decent bowling attack but their batting looks thin with a heavy reliance on Tom Latham and Henry Nicholls. Wellington Firebirds and Otago Volts too had disappointing campaigns last time and we don't expect them to finish in the top three this time as well.
Northern Knights, Auckland Aces and Central Stags made it past the league stage last season and they are likely to qualify for the knockouts once again. Central Stags have been very impressive in the previous two seasons and they will be going into this tournament as defending champions. Auckland Aces are the most successful team with four title wins and we expect them to at least make it to the Preliminary Final.
The Knights too have been very consistent since the last two seasons and have assembled a strong-looking squad this year. They came runners-up last time and we feel they have a good chance of winning their third title this season.
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