Cricket: Form but not history favours Volts

Vaughn Johnson
Vaughn Johnson
Otago coach Vaughn Johnson knows twenty/20 can be a funny game.

Just ask the Black Caps, who crumbled for 86 in the first game against South Africa, then scored 169 for the loss of just two wickets in the second.

The Volts, too, know the abbreviated form of cricket can be an unpredictable beast.

Imagine scoring 192 in a T20 game and ending on the losing side. That is what happened to Otago the last time it played Canterbury in Timaru.

''Canterbury always seem to give us a crack, especially in Timaru,'' Johnson said yesterday.

''It's not one of our favourite grounds.''

It is a year today since the southern rivals clashed in Timaru. Canterbury smashed 198 for seven at Aorangi Oval that day. Otago, paced by Neil Broom's 77 off 45 balls, got close but not close enough.

History might be against them but form is on the Volts' side. They are on an HRV Cup-winning streak of two, compared with the Wizards' three straight losses.

''It's been good. The guys have played well and are fired up,'' Johnson said.

''It's a funny game, twenty/20. But it's nice to be on a little mini-momentum streak.''

Otago has been inspired by the form of new import Ryan ten Doeschate, who has posted scores of 65 and 60 not out.

''He's going well. He's just come in and got on with it. He's helping the younger guys and getting people to bat round him.''

Left-arm spinner Nick Beard is also in a purple patch, with seven wickets in the past two games, while Hamish Rutherford and Neil Broom come off a 100-run partnership against Wellington.

Johnson has also been pleased with the efforts of Sam Wells, who stepped into the captaincy when Derek de Boorder was selected for the Black Caps.

''He's getting some help from Ryan and one or two of the senior players. Sam has stood up and led the side well.

''He hasn't had a lot of opportunities with the ball or with the bat, but he's done a fine job with the captaincy.''

Otago has a few injury niggles and will not finalise its squad until today. Aaron Redmond, in particular, was being monitored, Johnson said.

''He's starting to feel his adductor again, which has been a bit of problem in the past for him.

''We've got to be careful we don't put him on the park if he's not right.''

Canterbury is pointless, loses test squad member Dean Brownlie to the Black Caps and has been struck a blow by the withdrawal of import Dwayne Smith.

The West Indian all-rounder battled visa issues last week and has now elected to stay in the Caribbean, the Stuff website reported.

Australian pace bowler Mitchell Claydon is staying with the Wizards, and coach Gary Stead also welcomes back former internationals Andrew Ellis and Shanan Stewart from injury.

Pace bowler Matt Henry, who took four for 43 against Otago in Timaru last year, is also available after battling a back injury.


Otago v Canterbury
Timaru, today, 2pm
Otago Volts: Hamish Rutherford, Aaron Redmond, Neil Broom, Ryan ten Doeschate, Michael Bracewell, Sam Wells (captain), Iain Robertson, Ian Butler, James Fuller, Nick Beard, Mark Craig, Jacob Duffy, Blair Soper.
Canterbury Wizards: Brad Cachopa, George Worker, Shanan Stewart, Brendon Diamanti, Gareth Andrew, Tom Latham (captain), Andrew Ellis, Logan van Beek, Todd Astle, Mitchell Claydon, Matt Henry, Ryan McCone, Tim Johnston.