Otago Volts all-rounder Nathan McCullum bats in the nets at
the Queenstown Events Centre yesterday. Photo by Olivia
Otago has gone quite nicely while three of its key
players have been in South Africa.
The challenge now is to build on its three-match-winning
streak and keep the momentum going. To do that, the Volts
will welcome back captain Derek de Boorder and all-rounders
Nathan McCullum and Jimmy Neesham.
The trio have returned from the republic and have been named
in the team to play Auckland in a twenty/20 match at the
Queenstown Events centre today.
Spinner Mark Craig and all-rounders Sam Wells and Iain
Robertson make way for the threesome.
Wells captained the side in de Boorder's absence and Michael
Bracewell filled in with the gloves.
For Auckland, Michael Bates returns. He has been added to the
squad that lost to Wellington by 10 runs on Friday.
The competition is entering the middle stages and Otago is in
third place with three wins from four games. The Volts trail
joint leaders Wellington and Northern Districts by four
points, but those teams have played two extra games.
A quirk of the draw means Otago plays the defending champion
in back-to-back games.
Auckland has two wins from two matches and is in fourth spot,
Central Districts has one win from four games and Canterbury
is winless after four games.
Although Auckland lost its last match, coach Paul Strang is
confident his team is not far from hitting its stride.
''A lot of stuff on Friday was just a matter of degrees in
our execution,'' he said.
''We need to pick up on some of the finer details but,
overall, we've got the players and the mental attitude right,
so we're looking forward to getting back on the winning path
When Otago last won the competition in 2008-09, it did so by
playing fearless cricket. The Volts posted three scores of
more than 200 in a row that season and showed some of that
form in the 82-run win against Wellington in Dunedin before
Christmas and again in the one-run victory over Canterbury in
Timaru on Thursday.
Dutch international Ryan ten Doeschate has shown his class.
He has had three bats for 172 runs and took a screamer of a
catch to help Otago hold on against Canterbury. He is a key
man in the line-up.
Opener Hamish Rutherford has got his side off to good starts
in the past few games, and experienced top-order batsman
Aaron Redmond has returned from injury to bolster the
Overseas player James Fuller has added value since he joined
the squad earlier this month. He was the pick of the bowlers
in the win against Canterbury, and 18-year-old Jacob Duffy
keeps improving with each outing.
Auckland will look to proven performers Lou Vincent and Andre
Adams to provide spark. Vincent has had a lean run but is a
dangerous player, and Adams is the tournament's leading
wicket-taker with nine wickets at an average of 11.11.
English professional Phil Mustard found some form in the loss
to Wellington. He plundered an unbeaten 97 but his scratchy
start put a lot of pressure on his side.
Otago: Aaron Redmond, Hamish Rutherford, Neil Broom,
Ryan ten Doeschate, Nathan McCullum, Michael Bracewell, Jimmy
Neesham, Ian Butler, James Fuller, Derek de Boorder
(captain), Jacob Duffy, Nick Beard.
Auckland: Gareth Hopkins (captain), Andre Adams,
Michael Bates, Craig Cachopa, Colin de Grandhomme, Donovan
Grobbelaar, Anaru Kitchen, Kyle Mills, Phil Mustard, Matt
Quinn, Bhupinder Singh, Lou Vincent, Reece Young.