Bracewell dropped, Duffy out with injury

Otago batsman Michael Bracewell blasts a cut shot to the boundary during the fourth day of his...
Otago batsman Michael Bracewell blasts a cut shot to the boundary. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Michael Bracewell has been dropped after a series of poor scores but it is hoped his demotion will be a catalyst to come back a better player.

Bracewell was expected to step up this season after a few seasons in the side and some senior players moving on.

But it has been a season to forget for the tall left-hander, averaging under 20 with the bat in the Plunket Shield and Otago coach Rob Walter has demoted him to the sidelines for the penultimate game of the season, against Auckland at the University Oval, starting today. Bracewell is replaced by Gregor Croudis.

Walter said Bracewell had taken his dropping well and was looking forward.

``We all go through tough times in the game, every batsmen has those periods where they don't get runs. All we can do is prepare him for the next opportunity,'' he said.

``He has looked good but he has struggled to get runs on the board . . . he can go away, work on his game and come back a better player.''

Pace bowler Jacob Duffy is also being rested with a slight ankle niggle and Jack Hunter will come into the side.

Duffy has spent a period away from the on-field action, remodelling his delivery action and it is disappointing he has picked up an injury.

Otago is out of the running for the Plunket Shield and sits in fifth position.

Auckland though has plenty to play for with just the two games left.

It is 19 points behind Canterbury and a convincing win over Otago and a slip-up by Canterbury, which plays Central Districts in Nelson, may have the Aucklanders right back in the running with one round to go.

With 20 points up for grabs each game, Auckland will look to be aggressive over the next few days at University Oval.

Otago is coming off a demoralising innings loss inside three days to Canterbury last week.

Walter said games at this time of the year were all about the mental side of the game.

``It is all about what is happening upstairs and between the ears. We can't ask the guys to train any more.

``It was tough last week. We definitely had the worst of the conditions to bat in and if we had got a few more in the first dig we could have been more competitive.''

Walter said the match was one where players could make the most of an opportunity.

There was not much to play for in terms of winning the Plunket Shield but players could show some character which would bode well in the future.

The pitch had a bit of grass in it but could be on the slow side.

Auckland has brought back in Black Cap limited overs player Colin Munro, who was suspended for the last game because of bad language.

He is averaging 95 in the Plunket Shield this season and is part of a strong Auckland batting line-up.


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