Cricket: Beard to hit the big time

He is in a bit of a spin about it, but Nick Beard is poised to make his first class debut for Otago.

The 19-year-old left-arm tweaker is expected to be named in the Otago XI to play Auckland in a four-dayer beginning at the Queenstown Events Centre today.

For Beard, it is the high point of busy 18-month period.

He was in the New Zealand side which competed at the under-19 World Cup and played alongside the likes of Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Kane Williamson and Corey Anderson.

Last month he was selected for a New Zealand emerging players team and played two two-dayers against England A.

Beard carried the drinks for Otago during its drawn State Championship match with Wellington at the University Oval earlier this week.

But breaking into the starting XI has not been an easy task, with Nathan McCullum having a mortgage on the slow bowling duties.

However, with McCullum on duty with New Zealand A, Beard has been given the nod and he is keen to make the most of the gilt-edged opportunity.

"Obviously, it was an aim to play first class cricket," Beard said.

Stand-in Otago coach Mark Bracewell has given Beard carte blanche to "do what I do".

But there will be some nerves when the skipper Greg Todd hands Beard the ball.

"I always get nervous, but I've just got to control that. It will be an exciting nervous."

Beard looks to drift his stock ball away from the right hander and uses the "saucer ball" for variation.

That is a delivery in which the seam is horizontal to the pitch and the ball skids on rather than bites and turns.

He also has an arm ball in his box of tricks.

Auckland has a useful batting line-up waiting to greet him when he arrives at the bowling crease.

Test-opener Tim McIntosh and experienced campaigners Richard Jones and Rob Nicol will be doing their best to spoil Beard's debut.

Auckland opening bowler Chris Martin has been recalled to the test side for the three-game test series against India and will be determined to get into some rhythm against an Otago batting line-up missing openers Craig Cumming and Aaron Redmond.

Leighton Morgan and Hamish Rutherford will open for the Volts in their absence.

Neil Broom returns after a stint with the Black Caps one-day side and will bolster the Otago middle order, which includes Todd.

The pair are Otago's most experienced batsmen.

Warren McSkimming and Neil Wagner will opening the bowling, with James McMillan and Mat Harvie competing for the third seamer's role.

Bowling all-rounder Sam Wells is likely to get a start to help shore up the batting in McCullum's absence.

A loss to Auckland would end Otago's slim title hopes.

Kaikorai wicketkeeper-batsman Jason Glover will bring up his 150th game for the club when his side plays University-Grange at Bishopscourt tomorrow.

Glover (31) has been a permanent fixture in the senior side since he was 17 and has a high score of 92, which he posted against Taieri "about three or four years" ago.

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