Changes rung but same result

Otago new cap Llew Johnson holes out for seven during the Volts twenty20 match against Northern Districts at the University Oval yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Otago new cap Llew Johnson holes out for seven during the Volts twenty20 match against Northern Districts at the University Oval yesterday. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Otago left four former or current Black Caps on the sideline in a bid to change its fortunes but it backfired with another humbling defeat.

It has been more than a year since Otago won a twenty20 game and the Volts do not appear any closer to a breakthrough victory.

The home team posted a modest 156 for eight and fell to a comprehensive nine-wicket loss to Northern Districts in front of a crowd of 1026 at the University Oval yesterday.

Anton Devcich punished the Volts' attack, swatting an undefeated 88 from 51 balls.

His partnership with fellow opener Tim Seifert (55) set up the huge win. The pair put on 144 for the first wicket which took the game away from Otago at a rapid rate.

Matt Bacon, who was making his debut for Otago, looked like he had broken the partnership when Seifert was on 20. The wicketkeeper-batsman drove a full toss straight to Jacob Duffy at mid-off.

It was dipping but Duffy got two hands to the ball before grassing a catch you would expect players at this level to take.

It might not have turned the game around for Otago but it was one of those moments when the home team's skill was found wanting.

Otago coach Rob Walter certainly cannot be criticised for letting players drift along. He sprang a surprise by naming test bowler Neil Wagner as 12th man and dropping former Black Caps opener Hamish Rutherford from the 12.

Wagner and Rutherford joined other recent high-profile casualties - spinner Mark Craig and all-rounder Jimmy Neesham - to lose their place in the starting XI.

All four have played international cricket but have been out of sorts.

Seventeen-year-old Llew Johnson took Rutherford's spot and Bacon finally made his debut for Otago after carrying the drinks more than half a dozen times.

Walter said the decision to drop Rutherford and Wagner was partly due to a lack of form in the format but also to give players an opportunity.

''Now is the time to explore change because of where we are in the competition,'' he said.

''You can't justify to the fringe members when you've lost [six out of seven] games that they are not getting a go.

''At the end of the day, the numbers speak for themselves. If people are bemused about the decision then they just need to go and check the averages.

''The reality is they are not the first quality players to be left out of a team and they certainly won't be the last either.

''In my opinion, we have given guys opportunities. We've let them play and continued to pick them. But at some point you actually have to be fair to the other players in your squad.''

Earlier, the Volts produced another stumbling effort with the bat. Josh Finnie clouted 46 from 28 deliveries and Rob Nicol (25) and Shawn Hicks (28) made useful contributions.

Northern Districts English import Chris Jordan bowled superbly at the death and finished with two for 28.

The Volts were not able to score any boundaries in the final two overs.

Northern fielded exceptionally well and the win lifted the Knights into top place in the competition standings. The Volts are a distant last with just two points for an abandoned match against Wellington.

Add a Comment