Chance for Kelly to play against best

Nick Kelly
Nick Kelly
Otago top-order batsman Nick Kelly thought it was a joke at first.

The Caribbean Premier League (CPL) had not been on his radar at all.

So he almost dismissed the text from former Northern Districts team-mate Ish Sodhi.

The Black Caps spinner had tipped off Kelly about an upcoming call from the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots coach Simon Helmot.

Kelly was on their radar even if they were not on his. That call came a few hours later.

Helmot offered Kelly a spot in the squad — a squad which includes the likes of internationals Rassie van der Dussen, Chris Lynn, Denesh Ramdin, Evin Lewis and his buddy, Sodhi.

Kelly’s inclusion is a wonderful opportunity for him to test himself against some of the best twenty20 players in the world in a new environment.

The 27-year-old flew out last week but in a press release expressed his surprise and delight.

"I was on the plane ... from St Lucia to Trinidad, and Rashid Khan walked on the plane — so coming up against a guy like him will be an awesome experience but also a great challenge," Kelly said.

"To play with guys like Chris Lynn and Ben Dunk, who have enjoyed success in T20 leagues worldwide, will be pretty cool. And of course it will be great to link up with my good mate, Ish."

Kelly’s promotion follows a tremendous season for the Volts in the domesticT20 tournament.

He clubbed 398 runs, including four half-centuries, at an impressive strike rate of 139.64.

Only Martin Guptill (403) and Devon Conway (543) scored more runs, so he was in elite company.

Kelly was influential in helping the Volts reach the playoffs and Otago coach Rob Walter is confident he has the skill set to do well in the CPL.

"He played exceptionally well [for Otago] and the type of cricket he plays is exciting," Walter said.

"We saw the quality of the cricket shots he played here and that was against good teams with good bowling.

"Obviously, the only thing which will challenge him is the change in conditions.

"It will be very different from New Zealand conditions, that is for sure.

"The first thing is getting some game time and hopefully he gets some of that. But he is definitely good enough."

The CPL gets under way on August 18. The St Kitts and Nevis Patriots play the Barbados Tridents on the opening day.

Otago opener Hamish Rutherford has re-signed with English County side Worcestershire for the T20 Blast, which was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 31-year-old played for the team in 2019 and became only the second player to score centuries on his first-class and List A debut.

He stoked 123 in the County Championship match against Leicestershire and then 108 against Lancaster in the One-Day Cup versus Lancashire.

 

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