OPINION: Get him in the game: Why Ish Sodhi needs to play more than just T20

Ish Sodhi is the number one T20 bowler in the world.
Ish Sodhi is the number one T20 bowler in the world. Photo credit: Getty

OPINION: If it ain't broke, don't fix it... unless you're talking about Ish Sodhi and the Blackcaps.

The 25-year old may have gone wicketless in his four overs against Pakistan yesterday, but he offered yet another tantalising glimpse of his immense potential.

Sodhi's omission from all formats - and the one-day side in particular - continues to be one of the most puzzling decisions for cricket fans to swallow.

Curiously, the selectors have gone to bat for Canterbury leg-spinner Todd Astle, with the elder statesman preferred to arguably the country's most exciting bowler.

Todd Astle has been a solid addition to the Blackcaps ODI lineup.
Todd Astle has been a solid addition to the Blackcaps ODI lineup. Photo credit: Getty

It's understandable why the selectors are keen on Astle. The 31-year old is more experienced, has a lot more domestic cricket under his belt and offers more with the bat than Sodhi.

Plus, he's done nothing wrong since fighting his way into the side. In six ODIs, he's scored 69 runs at an average of 34.50, while taking seven wickets at an average of 21.42.

Those type of stats are more than good enough to keep him in the team. So why pick Sodhi?

He's undoubtedly the future of New Zealand spin bowling. Sodhi's a genuine turner of the ball, with a searing wrong'un that makes the batsman's Kookaburra feel like a toothbrush.

The vicious revolutions on the ball, when it tears out of his hand, are matched by the batsman's baffled mind, as he stabs hopefully at the ball.

Ish Sodhi celebrates a wicket with wicket-keeper Glenn Phillips.
Ish Sodhi celebrates a wicket with wicket-keeper Glenn Phillips. Photo credit: Getty

Sodhi is one of those bowlers people love to watch. There's a buzz around the ground, when the ball is thrown to him.

The commentators perk up, the fans edge closer to their seats, you put the dishes down in the kitchen to catch a few deliveries. He makes things happen.

Like all leg-spinners, patience is needed. Sodhi is still prone to a long-hop that gets plundered to the fence.

He makes up for it, though, with that beautifully flighted delivery that drops, grips and kicks.

Sodhi has a huge future ahead of him, if he's given the chance. His Twenty20 record is outstanding and he's currently the number one bowler in the world in the shortest form of the game.

There's no doubt he would have had plenty of tempting offers from the likes of the Big Bash and, given his form in India last year, it would be a huge surprise if he wasn't picked up in the IPL auction this weekend.

All of this means New Zealand Cricket has to play this out with soft hands.

He needs to know there's a future for him across all three formats.

The last thing they need is for Sodhi to pack up his gear and travel the lucrative T20 circuit.

Giving him an extended crack in the ODI side seems the logical step. It's worth pointing out that just because he's a gun in the T20 side, doesn't mean he'll be a gun in ODI cricket.

You can't compare the forms of the game like that, the same way it's foolish to suggest Colin Munro should be playing Test cricket, based on his performances in limited-overs cricket.

Coach Mike Hesson has indicated Sodhi is the next cab off the rank in the ODI side. That can't come soon enough.

Sodhi's been left out in the cold, missing the last 15 one-dayers for the Blackcaps.

His ODI record isn't staggering, but it's not awful either. He's taken 18 wickets in 19 matches, at an average of 40.68.

His economy rate is good, at 5.34. Unsurprisingly, given New Zealand conditions, Sodhi's mainly been used overseas, playing just a third of his games in Aotearoa.

Hesson has a valid point about his batting.

Sodhi's scored just five runs in six innings, although it's worth taking a look at his domestic record - he has eight fifties and a highest score of 82 not-out in first-class cricket.

The Blackcaps bowling attack is already incredibly potent, with the swing kings up top and the wicket-taking ability of Lockie Ferguson.

Add Sodhi to the mix and you have the X-Factor, alongside Ferguson, and a player capable of winning the match on his own.

It might seem like hair-splitting to pull apart a New Zealand side that's won 13 games in a row across all formats.

Good teams have consistency, great teams avoid complacency, but the best teams are always looking to improve.

Ish Sodhi makes them even better right now and for years to come.