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Tickner, Seifert, and other takeaways from the Super Smash season

A round-up of the 2018-19 season which shed light on New Zealand's seam-bowling depth, Northern Districts' riches, and the emergence of a strong fringe for the national side

Deivarayan Muthu
Tim Seifert hammers one onto the off side  •  AFP/Getty

Tim Seifert hammers one onto the off side  •  AFP/Getty

While most of you might have been watching the Big Bash League or the Pakistan Super League, the Super Smash concluded on Sunday, with Tom Bruce's Central Districts ambushing Dean Brownlie's Northern Districts in the final. ESPNcricinfo looks back at the major takeaways from the tournament
Incredible seam-bowling depth
Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Doug Bracewell, Scott Kuggeleijn, Adam Milne (who is fit again), Blair Tickner, Ben Wheeler, and Kyle Jamieson. How's that for depth in the seam attack? Mitchell McClenaghan, who had opted out of an NZC contract in 2017, was also among the wickets in the Super Smash.
Central Districts' Tickner, who was the top wicket-taker in the 2017-18 Super Smash, proved that he was no one-season wonder, following it up with 16 wickets in nine games in his side's title-winning run this season. His rich form culminated in a maiden call-up to the New Zealand side for the third T20I against India. He impressed there as well, dismissing the big-hitting Rishabh Pant in New Zealand's series-clinching victory in Hamilton.
Canterbury's beanpole quick Jamieson made heads turn when he exploited a bouncy Eden Park track to claim 6 for 7 - the best return by a New Zealand bowler and the third-best overall in T20s. Jamieson's remarkable feat had former New Zealand coach Mike Hesson gushing on Twitter: "An impressive bowler who at 6ft 8in can swing it......another one to add to the @BLACKCAPS stable."
Milne, whose career has been plagued by injuries, returned to action, and sealed Central Districts' title victory. On a two-paced Seddon Park pitch against defending champions Northern Districts, he showcased his variations, including a fast legcutter that got rid of Kuggleijn. He came away with 3 for 12 in 2.4 overs - the best figures in the final. Has he done enough to force himself back into the World Cup reckoning?
Northern Districts = New Zealand?
After Tim Seifert shellacked 84 off 43 balls against India in Wellington, he quipped that it felt like a Northern Districts home game. Eight out of the XI in the team were Northen District players, including captain Kane Williamson.
With their core mostly away playing for New Zealand, and Anton Devcich and Chris Jordan linking up with Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, Northern Districts found new heroes. Daryl Mitchell, the son of former All Black John Mitchell, and Kyle Abbott particularly excelled in the end overs with their variety of cutters and yorkers, while Brett Hampton also caught the eye with his lusty leg-side clubs. When Ish Sodhi was unavailable, Tarun Nethula claimed 6 for 23 in only 19 balls - the second-best figures in a New Zealand T20 competition.
So, can you even best this side? Yes, if you're Central Districts.
Where are the overseas stars?
The Super Smash ran concurrently with the more popular Big Bash League, Bangladesh Premier League and the Pakistan Super League and flew under the radar. The presence of Ben Stokes gave the tournament a massive leg-up last season, but there were no such marquee names this season.
James Vince played just two games for Auckland Aces before joining the Sydney Sixers and lighting up the BBL. Jordan, too, played only two matches before heading across the Tasman Sea.
And Devcich, who is among the biggest local stars, was away too, featuring in the BBL and PSL.
Kent's Daniel Bell-Drummond, who was signed as Vince's replacement, struck 223 runs in five innings at a strike-rate of just a shade under 140, but that didn't quite set the tournament alight.
The fringe players are ready
"Some of the new guys who came into the [New Zealand] team - the Tim Seiferts and Daryl Mitchells - and Tickner was very good as well. Getting a taste of international cricket and showing that they can succeed here is positive as we build towards the 2020 World Cup… If you didn't know if he [Mitchell] was wearing a black shirt or a pink shirt, he looked like the same player.
That was national coach Gary Stead's assessment after they had clinched a 2-1 series win over India.
Mitchell played a starring role for Northern Districts, cracking a chart-topping 19 sixes and often bowling the pressure overs. After being called up to the national squad, he contributed in all departments to help New Zealand topple India.
Seifert, who holds the record for hitting the fastest hundred in the Super Smash, reminded Ian Smith, the commentator, and several others of Brendon McCullum during the T20Is against India. So, New Zealand's future is in safe hands after all.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo