How good is this Otago team? Well, according to long-serving
Otago scorer Malcolm Jones, and he has been in the job since
1986, it is at least on par with the Otago side which won the
one-day and first-class tournaments in the summer of 1987-88.
Otago has not won the first-class competition since and the
province had to wait 20 years before the Volts won the
With every year that passed, the deeds of the 1987-88 side
seemed to take on extra significance. But arguably the
current crop has more depth. Otago keeps winning despite, it
seems, losing the services of a player or two to the national
side every other week.
And the team is not just be winning, it is annihilating the
Its past three Plunket Shield encounters have been one-sided
affairs. Otago beat Wellington by an innings and a massive
240 runs, thrashed Northern Districts by eight wickets and
dispatched Auckland by 10 wickets.
The team dominated the twenty/20 tournament, winning 10 games
in a row to claim the title. That was a remarkable feat given
how fickle twenty/20 can be and how elusive consistency is in
the shortened format.
But while twenty/20 is good for the bank account and has a
much higher profile than the Plunket Shield, first-class
cricket remains the best way to measure a player's and a
With one match remaining in the four-day competition, the
Volts trail competition leader Central Districts by nine
points. If Otago beats Wellington at the Basin Reserve this
week, and Central fails to pick up an outright win against
Northern Districts in Nelson, the Volts will win the
first-class tournament for the first time in 25-years.
Victory will bring a lot kudos but, even if the province
cannot bridge the gap, it has been a stellar campaign with
many team and personal highlights. Everybody has found a way
to contribute and that has enabled this Otago side to achieve
There is some confusion about how many games of cricket Otago
has won in a row. While Otago won 10 consecutive games of
twenty/20 and its past three four-day games, the winning
streak stands at 12 not 13. Otago played a four-day match
against Central Districts part way through the twenty/20
tournament and that game was drawn.
But the province can claim to be unbeaten since late November
and, in 20 games in all formats this season, Otago has won
15, lost two and drawn three games.
Aaron Redmond (784 at 52.26), Neil Broom (622 at 51.91) and
Hamish Rutherford (609 at 40.60) have all scored more than
600 first-class runs this season. Redmond's haul of 784 is
the third-equal highest season tally by an Otago batsman and
he still has a match remaining.
Glenn Turner holds the record with 1027 runs in the summer of
Ian Butler is Otago's leading wicket-taker with 36 at 23.52
and Neil Wagner (24 at 25.62) and Sam Wells (17 at 23.88)
have also been effective.
It has been an outstanding summer so far but, arguably, the
gold standard of Otago teams were the sides which won five
first-class titles from 1969-70 to 1978-79. Those teams
featured some of the very best players to slip on the whites
for Otago - players such as Turner, Warren Lees, Stephen
Boock, Gren Alabaster and Murray Webb.
For those of you with longer memories, the Otago teams of the
late 1940s and 1950s were successful thanks to players such
as the incomparable Bert Sutcliffe, Frank Cameron, Alex Moir
and Lankford Smith. Otago won four first-class titles from
1947-48 to 1957-58.