Cricket: Injuries to bowlers a worry for Otago

Blair Soper
Blair Soper
If you have ever rolled your arm over, now is the time to head down to the nets.

Otago is going to need all the help it can get with up to four players ruled out of its Plunket Shield match against Canterbury at the University Oval beginning on Monday.

The Volts will have to get by without strike bowlers Neil Wagner and James McMillan, all-rounder Sam Wells and probably spinner Nick Beard.

Wagner is joining the Black Caps in Sri Lanka and will miss the next two games. McMillan has ligament damage in his ankle and is unlikely to be available for another two or three weeks.

Wells strained his hamstring in Otago's opening twenty/20 match and will be sidelined for four to six weeks.

Beard had a scan on his shoulder yesterday. The results will not be available until after the weekend, so he is unlikely to make the squad.

Coach Vaughn Johnson will name his side tomorrow.

McMillan, Beard and Wells all missed the drawn match against Northern Districts in Hamilton, so only Wagner will have to be replaced.

Promising left-arm seamer Blair Soper shapes as the likely replacement, though Johnson would not be drawn on who might fill in for Wagner.

"We need to have a look at the injuries we've got," Johnson said.

"But he is an option and I think he is ready to go. It is a matter of whether he makes the side or not."

Iain Robertson was Otago's 12th man against Northern Districts and is more of a batsman who bowls a little. But he must deserve an opportunity, perhaps at the expense of Darren Broom.

In 21 first-class games, the former Canterbury representative has scored 828 runs at an average of 39.42, including two hundreds and four 50s.

It is a very decent record yet Robertson has only played one twenty/20 game for Otago since shifting to Dunedin from Christchurch in December, 2010. His record compares favourably with Broom's (16 games, 574 runs at 24.95), but Broom has been preferred by the selectors.

Broom missed selection for the opening round of the Plunket Shield but replaced the injured Wells for this week's match against Northern Districts. He failed to impress, with innings of 2 and 21, and last season scored 47 runs at 11.75 in three games.