Cricket: Otago hoping ace bowlers can join attack

Nathan McCullum
Nathan McCullum
The Otago bowling attack could be strengthened against Auckland by the inclusion of Black Caps spinner Nathan McCullum and fast bowler James McMillan.

Otago coach Vaughn Johnson said yesterday the team announcement had been delayed because of injuries and would not be finalised until just before the start of the game at Colin Maiden Park in Auckland tomorrow.

Johnson acknowledged the Otago bowling attack was below par in the heavy loss to Central Districts earlier this week and he was keen to strengthen it for the Auckland game.

Vaughn Johnson
Vaughn Johnson
"James McMillan is a possible starter and it depends how he comes through training today," Johnson said.

"He is recovering from strained ankle ligaments."

Johnson is keen to get McMillan into the game because the Otago attack needs the tearaway fast bowler to rattle the Auckland batsmen.

McCullum has had time off after returning from the one-day series in Sri Lanka.

"We are not sure if he will play or not," Johnson said.

"His wife has just had a baby and he needs a bit of time with them."

McCullum is strongly competitive and would ginger up an Otago attack that was lethargic against Central Districts.

There are no other injury problems in the Otago squad.

"There is just a bit of soreness and broken pride from the last game, when we got totally outplayed," Johnson said.

"We just need to get it together against a very good Auckland side that amassed 658 runs in their last dig against Wellington. We have come off a poor loss and it gives us an opportunity to put things right."

Johnson said the morale of the Otago team remained strong despite the performance against Central Districts.

"Everyone is hurting from the last game but there is nothing wrong about our morale. It is just a matter of putting it together."

There was hope for Otago in the second innings when the opening pair of Aaron Redmond and Hamish Rutherford put on 120 for the first wicket.

"They both got out to poor shots and that was when the slide happened," Johnson said.

"Most players got little starts but there were no huge partnerships after that to put us back into the game."

Veteran Black Caps seamer Chris Martin could step straight off the plane from Sri Lanka to join the Auckland side.

He will be available for the final two days of the game, subject to fitness. The Aces have selected 13 players to face the Volts. The other change is the addition of pace bowler Dean Bartlett.

Despite the records that fell in Auckland's game against Wellington, rain denied both sides a result on the final day.

"We've been playing some very good cricket and really positive cricket as well," Auckland coach Paul Strang said.

"I think if we continue to do that, we'll see the results come.

"We're not worried about the points table right now."

Plunket Shield
Auckland, starts tomorrow

Otago: Aaron Redmond, Hamish Rutherford, Michael Bracewell, Neil Broom, Sam Wells, Derek de Boorder (captain), Jimmy Neesham, Mark Craig, Ian Butler, Nick Beard, Jacob Duffy, Blair Soper, James McMillan, Nathan McCullum.

Auckland: Dean Bartlett, Craig Cachopa, Colin de Grandhomme, Gareth Hopkins (captain), Mitchell McClenaghan, Tim McIntosh, Bruce Martin, Chris Martin, Kyle Mills, Colin Munro, Bhupinder Singh, Lou Vincent, Reece Young.

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