Otago all-rounder Sam Wells has made a
speedier-than-expected recovery and will join the Volts for
their top-of-the-table Plunket Shield match against Central
Districts in Napier today.
Wells picked up a hamstring strain in Otago's twenty/20
fixture against Northern Districts in Hamilton on November 2.
Initially, it was thought he could be sidelined for up to six
weeks, but he has been ruled fit enough to play as a
specialist batsman and replaces out-of-form Darren Broom in
the middle of the order.
"Darren has missed out and we feel Sam is good enough at the
moment to be able to operate as a batsman," Otago coach
Vaughn Johnson said.
"He was the encumbent before he was injured and Darren
probably hasn't taken his chances.
"Sam has come back a little bit earlier ... but I'm confident
he'll come through. The testing the physio has done with him
has been pretty comprehensive."
Left-arm spinner Nick Beard is back at 100%. He carried the
drinks during Otago's draw with Canterbury at the University
Oval last week but probably would have played had there not
been some concern about his shoulder, which he injured during
In his absence, offspinner Mark Craig has done a fine job.
He is the team's leading wicket-taker with 13 scalps at an
average of 29.15. He has also been more than useful with the
bat, scoring 138 at 34.50.
Whether there is room for both will depend on how the surface
looks at McLean Park. However, with Wells unable to
contribute at the bowling crease, Johnson may opt for four
seamers rather than a second spinner.
Competition for that slow bowling spot would have been even
more intense had Black Caps offspinner Nathan McCullum been
He has not long returned from Sri Lanka and has been given
the week off.
"We think that is best for him at the moment after all he has
been away for so long," Johnson said. "He'll have this one
off and join us up in Auckland."
Otago slumped to a five-wicket loss to Central Districts the
last time the sides met. The Volts had been in a strong
position but crashed to be all out for 115 in their second
innings, losing their last eight wickets for just 26 runs.
The Central attack is led by promising seamer Adam Milne but
legspinner Tarun Nethula could pose the biggest challenge.
He has more success against Otago than any other association,
taking 23 wickets at 22.30. He took a career-best six for 32
against Otago last summer and backed up with three for 18 in
the second innings.
Veteran batsman Mathew Sinclair is on the cusp of a milestone
of sorts. He needs another two runs to have scored 2000 runs
against Otago. In 20 matches against Otago, he has scored
1998 at 64.45, including seven 100s and 10 half-centuries.
Jamie How also averages in the 60s against the Volts, with
four centuries in nine matches.
"They are a strong side.
They're heading the competition at the moment and, on their
home deck, will certainly be keen to continue the momentum
they've got," Johnson said.
Opening bowler Ben Wheeler is out of the Central team after
straining his hamstring in the seven-wicket loss to ND in the
twenty/20 clash on Friday night.
Enter English import allrounder Peter Trego, who opens the
bowling and the batting for his Somerset county side.
Former Wellington player Andrew Lamb will also come into the
Napier, starts today
Otago: Aaron Redmond, Hamish Rutherford, Michael
Bracewell, Neil Broom, Sam Wells, Derek de Border (captain),
Jimmy Neesham, Mark Craig, Ian Butler, Nick Beard, Jacob
Duffy, Blair Soper.
Central: Kieran Noema-Barnett (captain), Carl Cachopa,
Jamie How, Andrew Mathieson, Adam Milne, Tarun Nethula, Jeet
Raval, Mathew Sinclair, Ben Smith, Peter Trego, Andrew Lamb,