Cricket: Morgan hopes his time will come against Wellington

Otago batsman Leighton Morgan defends a delivery from James Fuller during a training session at...
Otago batsman Leighton Morgan defends a delivery from James Fuller during a training session at the University Oval on Wednesday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Timing is crucial for a batsman. But it is not always about how quickly the ball flashes from the bat.

It is often about when you score the runs that counts the most.

For fringe Otago opening batsman Leighton Morgan there is never a better time to compile a big innings than during the next four days.

And there is more than just statistics at stake - his summer job could be on the line.

The contracted player has had to bide his time on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity with the likes of Craig Cumming, Aaron Redmond and Hamish Rutherford keeping him out of squad.

He has also had a run of niggly injuries which have not helped his selection chances.

The Wellington-born right-hander finally got a start last week and was one of the few Otago batsmen who enhanced his reputation, rather than dented it.

The Volts were humbled by Auckland by an innings and 84 runs.

Morgan played well in the first innings, scoring 54, but nicked out for 18 in his second dig.

It was good enough for Morgan to retain his spot for the State Championship match against Wellington in the capital today, although he will shift down the order to No 5, with openers Cumming and Redmond returning from a stint with New Zealand A.

Morgan is aware how crucial the match potentially could be for him.

If he finishes the summer well, his chances of retaining his contract next season will be enhanced.

If he misses out, his contract could go the likes of Rutherford, who made a big impact in the twenty/20 tournament which Otago won, or middle order batsman and stand-in wicketkeeper Shaun Haig.

"It has been a bit frustrating waiting for an opportunity," Morgan said.

"I guess it is the luxury Otago have had this season, with their wealth of depth. There is probably half-a-dozen guys here that are all good enough to fit into a first-class team, whereas I think a lot of other teams are forced to pick guys that aren't ready."

"It's good and bad, I guess," he added, with an ironic laugh.

Asked whether he might shop around for another province to play for next summer, Morgan said he was just concentrating on the remainder of the season.

"At this stage, all I'm doing is focusing on the next couple of weeks. If you are not thinking about what is immediately in front of you then you're not giving it a 100% attention, and you're not going to do yourself any good."

"You can have a good summer and score runs, but sometimes it is just about when you do do it," he added. Morgan is comfortable with shifting down to No 5. He is a specialist opener but he is happy to bat anywhere, if it means making the side.

"There is not too much difference. I won't be preparing any differently."

Otago has been bolstered by the return of four New Zealand A players, Cumming, Redmond, Nathan McCullum and Warren McSkimming.

Coach Mike Hesson also returns after leading the New Zealand A side.

Bowling all-rounder Ian Butler has been ruled out with a quadricep strain but will play for his club, Pelichet Bay, as a specialist batsman in the Dunedin senior twenty/20 tournament.

Black Caps Grant Elliott and Jeetan Patel have been selected in a 13-man Wellington squad for the Basin Reserve game.

Patel has been released to play for the Firebirds after being omitted from New Zealand's playing XI for the first test in Hamilton.

Elliott rejoins his domestic side after playing in the recent one-day international series.

Veteran batsman Neal Parlane will have a fitness test this morning.

He broke his finger while fielding in Wellington's game against the Central Stags.

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