Cricket: Johnson slams CD's negative approach

Vaughn Johnson
Vaughn Johnson
Central Districts might have been content with a draw but Otago coach Vaughn Johnson was bitterly disappointed with the opposition's approach.

The Plunket Shield match at the University Oval came to a merciful end at the tea break yesterday. It was a draw, of course. That result appeared inevitable about halfway through day two when Central elected to bat on after avoiding the follow-on mark. Had it declared at that point, there was still enough time left in the match for Otago to set a target, despite 50 overs being lost on the opening day to bad weather.

But Central Districts seemed more interested in protecting its lead at the top of the competition table than making a match of it.

That was the visiting side's prerogative but it made for some painfully dull cricket and Johnson was none too happy about it.

''I thought it was disappointing for either side not to be playing today for a result,'' Johnson said.

''I was very surprised [on Wednesday] that CD didn't pull out and I'm not sure whether they were protecting a lead in the competition. It is a bit early to be protecting a 17-point lead. There is still 80 points up for grabs.''

Otago resumed on 37 for one with a lead of 15 runs. Central might have sniffed half a chance when Aaron Redmond (38) nicked out to Jeet Raval and Michael Bracewell (16) edged Bevan Small.

But nightwatchman Neil Wagner demonstrated his value to the side with, what for him, was a very patient innings.

He batted for more than three hours for 65 and seemed determined to register his maiden first-class hundred. His innings was in stark contrast to his effort in the first innings when he whacked 68 from 79 deliveries.

''Neil Wagner is a player that any team in the world would want,'' Johnson said.

''He runs in for you all day and is a class act with the ball and he showed he can hold a bat. It is great for us to have someone like him.''

Dutch international Ryan ten Doeschate was the star with a century in the first innings and an undefeated half-century yesterday. Redmond looked in good touch and Sam Wells and Mark Craig both scored 63 in the first innings.

Otago has to quickly switch tempo as it has a twenty/20 match against Wellington at the University Oval on Sunday.

Johnson will name his team tomorrow and there is likely to be a change or two from the first-class side.

Both Craig and Hamish Rutherford are nursing hand injuries. Craig's injury is the more serious.

Left-arm spinner Nick Beard played well in Otago's last twenty/20 game but was 12th man for the Plunket Shield game. He will likely come back in to the playing XI. All-rounder James Fuller will probably return as well.

A new pitch has been prepared and Johnson expects it will be similar to the pitch which was prepared for the first-class game.

''It might be a little bit quicker ... but it will be pretty flat and I think there will probably be a lot of runs scored.''