Otago coach Vaughn Johnson has left his options open
ahead of the match against Canterbury starting at the
University Oval today.
Johnson has named a squad of 13, bringing Nick Beard in from
injury and with Blair Soper waiting for a debut, and will
make the final call this morning.
"We've got a couple of niggles to check, so we've picked 13
and we'll just decide when it's time," Johnson said.
Beard is available for selection after recovering from a
shoulder injury sustained in a pre-season game and a virus.
Rising fast bowler Soper will be keen to unleash his pace and
youthful vigour as a ready-made replacement for Black Cap
Otago has to be pleased about playing Canterbury again so
The two sides have played a lot of cricket against each other
in the past month and the Volts have been dominant.
In mid-October, they outplayed Canterbury in a two-day
warm-up game and then met in the opening Plunket Shield late
last month, with Otago winning by eight wickets.
A couple of key players from that match will be missing, of
Otago loses Wagner and Canterbury will be without Todd Astle.
Both are joining the Black Caps in Sri Lanka for the
two-match test series and will be sorely missed.
Wagner took eight wickets and Astle had a nice double with
the bat, scoring 95 and 78.
Wagner's absence will be felt keenly as strike bowler James
McMillan (ankle) and all-rounder Sam Wells (hamstring) are
both ruled out.
"Neil is a real key part of our attack and he is a big loss,"
Otago captain Derek de Boorder said.
Otago opener Aaron Redmond is probably more excited than any
of his team-mates at the prospect of another bat against
Canterbury. He returned to form with back-to-back 100s in the
eight-wicket win but then missed out against Northern
Districts with just one run from two innings.
Neil Broom scored an undefeated innings of 146 to ensure
Otago held on for a draw with Northern, and Jimmy Neesham
posted his maiden 100 in the first innings.
Michael Bracewell (88 not out) and Hamish Rutherford (91)
have also posted significant scores, so confidence in the
batting line-up should be high.
However, the bowling could come under pressure. In the
opening game against Canterbury, Wagner and McMillan were
both injured on the third day and Canterbury was able to
score more than 300 runs for the loss of five wickets.
Eighteen-year-old Jacob Duffy is still making his way in
first-class cricket but with Wagner and McMillan unavailable,
he is suddenly thrust into the role of Otago's spearhead.
Ian Butler is likely to partner Duffy with the new ball. He
bowled well in Northern's first innings with four for 39 but
struggled to make an impact against Canterbury.
The University Oval has proven to be a helpful venue for the
seamers and the toss is usually followed by a quick decision
to field. In the last 10 first-class games at the venue, the
team which has won the toss has elected to bat just once.
But there have also been 27 centuries scored in 31
first-class games. Earlier this year Rutherford broke the
ground record with his innings of 239.
Auckland has taken a commanding lead at the halfway point of
its Plunket Shield match against Northern Districts thanks to
a record seventh-wicket partnership, APNZ reported.
After bowling out the visitors for 208 on Saturday at Eden
Park's outer oval, Auckland looked to be stuttering its way
towards a similar score when it was reduced to 150 for six.
But that brought No 8 Bruce Martin (107 not out) to the
crease where he joined Craig Cachopa (82) in an unlikely
168-run stand to leave the Aces with a lead of 157 at stumps
and three wickets still in hand.
University Oval, starts today
Otago: Aaron Redmond, Hamish Rutherford, Michael
Bracewell, Neil Broom, Darren Broom, Derek de Boorder
(captain), Jimmy Neesham, Mark Craig, Ian Butler, Jacob
Duffy, Blair Soper, Nick Beard, Iain Robertson.
Canterbury: George Worker, Peter Fulton, Shanan
Stewart, Dean Brownlie, Henry Nicholls, Brad Cachopa, Ben
McCord, Matt McEwan, Cole McConchie, Willie Lonsdale, Tim
Johnston, Will Williams.