Cricket: Volts full of local lads doing the region proud

Who says you have to fly the stars in from all over the world if you want to be competitive?

In these modern days of the highly-paid cricket mercenary, Otago is bucking the trend and reminding the world how far you can get on a little provincial pride.

The Volts, with one very notable exception, are basically a bunch of locals come good. Otago has won 14 consecutive games of twenty/20 cricket, including its past four Champions League matches. It will be hoping to keep the streak alive when it plays the Highveld Lions (South Africa) in Jaipur late tomorrow night (New Zealand time).

Remarkably, seven of the 15 squad members honed their skills playing cricket for various Dunedin schools.

The prodigiously talented McCullum brothers - Brendon and Nathan - went to King's High School and grew up in South Dunedin. Who knows how many sixes they flogged over the back fence at the family home in Waterloo St?Batsman Michael Bracewell and spinner Nick Beard went to Kavanagh College, Hamish Rutherford and Sam Wells went to Otago Boys' High School, and James McMillan went to John McGlashan College.

What a treat it must be for their old coaches to watch them competing against - and beating - the best in the world.

Of the remaining eight players, most have made a life in Dunedin.

Ian Butler transferred from Northern Districts in 2008-09 to reinvigorate his career and has built a house here.

Neil Broom, who whacked an incredible undefeated 117 in the huge win over the Perth Scorchers earlier this week, also lives in Dunedin. He transferred south from Canterbury in 2005-06.

Batsman Aaron Redmond is in his 10th season for Otago, and regular captain Derek de Boorder transferred from Auckland in 2007-08.

South African-born left-armer Neil Wager moved to Dunedin in 2009 in a bid to qualify for New Zealand and also owns a home in the city.

Spinner Mark Craig has been in the province for at least five years and flats with Beard in St Clair.

All-rounder Jimmy Neesham is still an Aucklander - but give him time.

Star all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate is the only real ring-in. But the South African-born Dutch international told the Otago Daily Times he plans to return to New Zealand and play for Otago again this summer.

We are not saying Otago is taking the moral high ground. Had imports Brett Lee (Australia) and James Fuller (England) been available, they would have been selected.

But it is nice to see a team which truly represents the region. It ignites passion and that old us-against-them mentality which is so intertwined with sport.


Otago Volts
Local heroes

Brendon and Nathan McCullum (King's High School), Michael Bracewell and Nick Beard (Kavanagh College), Hamish Rutherford and Sam Wells (Otago Boys' High School), James McMillan (John McGlashan College), Aaron Redmond (10th season with Otago), Neil Broom (ninth season), Derek de Boorder (seventh season), Ian Butler (sixth season), Neil Wagner (sixth season), Mark Craig (sixth season), James Neesham (third season), Ryan ten Doeschate (South African-born Dutch international)