Cricket: Captaincy huge honour- Wells

Sam Wells
Sam Wells
Newly promoted Otago captain Sam Wells acknowledges he has been thrown in the deep end.

The 28-year-old all-rounder has only played four twenty/20 games for his province but will find himself leading the side out when it plays Northern Districts at Seddon Park in Hamilton tonight. Wells is the first to admit he does not have a lot leadership experience. To add to the pressure, the game is being televised live. Gulp.

But with regular Otago captain Derek de Boorder on national duty for the next few weeks, Wells has been asked to fill in.

''First and foremost it is a huge honour to be asked to captain your province and it is a very proud moment for me and my family,'' he said.

''It is a big challenge for me because I have not played a whole lot of twenty/20 cricket, so I guess it is a thrown in the deep end situation.

''It is live on TV, so there is no easing in with a Plunket Shield game at some provincial backwater, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.''

Asked about his captaincy experience, Wells said it was ''reasonably limited''.

''I coached University-Grange for quite a few years and we went to the national championships with them. I think I've done Otago A. I can't remember but I'm sure I've done them.''

Wells, though, is a thinker. He loves discussing the game and debating cricket theories. He is also a student of the game, much to the amusement of his team-mates who think he can be a bit ''nerdy''.

That knowledge, though, and the support of senior players such as former captain Aaron Redmond, is where Wells derives his confidence.

''I back myself at the tactical side of the game as long as I feel I have the support and the backing of my team-mates.

''It is going to be a mutual process rather than a dictatorial one. It is about working together with your team-mates rather than calling all the shots yourself.''

Twenty/20 is a fast-paced game and there is not always time to run the team by committee. Wells is aware he will have to think on his feet but has a solid blueprint he hopes will work and a couple of plan Bs should it all start falling apart.

''There will be things which crop up in the game which may mean making a change, but I think there is a lot of pre-planning that can be done more in T20 than perhaps, say, four-day cricket. But if there are calls to be made, then that is what I'll have to do.

''We have lots of options with the ball and with the bat as well. The real key is your top three or four batsman and top bowlers have to stand up. Hopefully, the game will go to plan and not too many calls will have to be made.''

Wells flats with de Boorder so he has received plenty of advice from him, and he has also talked to Nathan McCullum and coach Vaughn Johnson. Redmond is another good sounding board and Wells hoped to catch up with retired former captain Craig Cumming.

Northern Districts shapes as a formidable opponent. The home side has won its first three games, including a 24-run win against Otago in the opening game of the tournament.

It was a game Otago let slip through its grasp, Wells said. The Volts picked up four quick wickets but Northern's overseas pair of James Foster (48) and Steve Croft (81) grabbed the initiative with a fabulous partnership of 126 for the fifth wicket.

Northern has named a very strong line-up featuring internationals Tim Southee, Kane Williamson, BJ Watling and Daniel Flynn as well as experienced campaigner Scott Styris and overseas professional Croft.


Hamilton, tonight, 7pm

• Otago: Aaron Redmond, Hamish Rutherford, Ryan ten Doeschate, Neil Broom, Michael Bracewell, Sam Wells (captain), Mark Craig, Ian Butler, Neil Wagner, Nick Beard, Jacob Duffy, Iain Robertson, James Fuller.

• Northern Districts: Scott Styris (captain), Graeme Aldridge, Brent Arnel, Steven Croft, Anton Devcich, Daniel Flynn, James Marshall, Bradley Scott, Tim Southee, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson, Brad Wilson.

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