Meet the new legspin whiz New Zealand Cricket will unleash on Australia

New Zealand Under-19 legspinner Adithya Ashok was fast-tracked into the Mt Albert Grammar School first XI in year nine.
DAVID JOSEPH/PHOTOTEK
New Zealand Under-19 legspinner Adithya Ashok was fast-tracked into the Mt Albert Grammar School first XI in year nine.

He's a familiar recent cricketing tale, Adithya Ashok.

Born in India, the family moved from Chennai to New Zealand when young Adithya was four and he started bowling some seriously good legspin.

So good that he was promoted into Mt Albert Grammar School's first XI in year nine, and took the remarkable figures of 6-12 for Auckland against Northern Districts at the national under-17 tournament in January.

Rhys Mariu bowling his legspin for NZ Maori Schools in March.
MARTY MELVILLE/PHOTOSPORT
Rhys Mariu bowling his legspin for NZ Maori Schools in March.

He quickly caught New Zealand Cricket's eye, too. On Wednesday, the 16-year-old from Auckland was named in the NZ Under-19 squad to tour Australia as the countdown begins for their World Cup in South Africa early next year.

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Ashok can bat, too, and his goal is to play for the Black Caps and follow the respective paths of Ish Sodhi, Jeet Raval and Ajaz Patel. The latter's debut against Pakistan last year boosted to five the number of Indian-born New Zealand test cricketers.

"He [Ashok] is an exciting prospect. He spins it both ways and he's a little guy, only 16 and if he was to make this [under-19] World Cup he'll end up playing two. He's got a great work ethic and can hold a bat. He'll end up a genuine allrounder," said former test spinner Paul Wiseman, programme lead for the under-19s.

Legspin is certainly in across world cricket, and Ashok is working with former Black Caps legspinner Tarun Nethula on his tactical approach.

Seven of this 15-strong squad to play four 50-over matches against Australia Under-19 in Brisbane give the ball a tweak: two legspinners, one offspinner and four left-arm orthodox.

Ollie White is the son of NZ Cricket CEO and former Black Cap David White, and is one of seven spin bowlers in the NZ Under-19 squad.
MARTY MELVILLE/PHOTOSPORT
Ollie White is the son of NZ Cricket CEO and former Black Cap David White, and is one of seven spin bowlers in the NZ Under-19 squad.

Two of those left-armers are sons of former Black Caps. Tim Pringle, the other 16-year-old, calls Chris Pringle dad, and Ollie White's father is NZC chief executive David White.

Pringle is tall, wears glasses and, Wiseman said, will draw inevitable comparisons with bespectacled left-armers Daniel Vettori and Mitchell Santner.

Wiseman said spin bowling allrounders were becoming more common, with players raised as medium pacers increasingly making the switch.

Ruben Love bats for NZ Maori Schools against the  Governor General's XI at Karori Park in Wellington.
MARTY MELVILLE/PHOTOSPORT
Ruben Love bats for NZ Maori Schools against the Governor General's XI at Karori Park in Wellington.

"It's cool to see multi-disciplined players coming through because that's where the game's going, certainly at international short form. Look at England, guys who can bat deep and bowl and good athletes in terms of their fielding."

Another thread to this squad is its ethnic diversity with Hayden Dickson of Cook Islander heritage and four Maori players: Ruben Love, Rhys Mariu, Ben Pomare and White.

NZC signalled its intent to promote more Maori by establishing the NZ Maori Schools team last season. White, Love and Mariu were in that team who played the Governor General's XI in Wellington and were capped by Black Caps star Trent Boult, one of few Maori test players in recent years.

Black Caps star Trent Boult and NZ Maori Schools player Ruben Love hongi at the team's capping ceremony at the Basin Reserve in March.
MARTY MELVILLE/PHOTOSPORT
Black Caps star Trent Boult and NZ Maori Schools player Ruben Love hongi at the team's capping ceremony at the Basin Reserve in March.

Said Wiseman: "I think it's fantastic. The last Under-19 World Cup we had English, South African, Chinese, Australian...

"That's just a reflection of New Zealand as a country now and it's exciting to see these guys coming through and passionate to play for New Zealand.

"And the Maori and Pacific Island players with some raw power. If we can try and extract more of that and some of these guys coming through then that's only a positive thing for New Zealand."

The Black Caps had as many as six overseas-born players in their test squad in the past year with Raval, Sodhi, Patel, BJ Watling (South Africa), Neil Wagner (South Africa) and Colin de Grandhomme (Zimbabwe).

AT A GLANCE

New Zealand Under-19 squad: Adithya Ashok (Auckland), William Clark (Central Districts), Kristian Clarke (Northern Districts), Lucas Dasent (Auckland), Hayden Dickson (ND), Joey Field (CD), Jesse Frew (Canterbury), Ruben Love (CD), Jock McKenzie (Auckland), Rhys Mariu (Canterbury), Tim Pringle (ND), Ben Pomare (ND), Jesse Tashkoff (Wellington), Dylan Taylor (Auckland), Ollie White (ND).

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