Cricket: Senior players taking more responsibility

Nathan King
Nathan King
Stand-in Otago coach Nathan King has asked his senior players to shoulder more load as the camp adjusts to the absence of coach Vaughn Johnson.

Johnson (53) is taking an indefinite break to address some stress-related issues.

''We've put a bit more responsibility back on the players,'' King said when asked how he was handling the extra responsibilities suddenly thrust upon him.

''We've got a number of senior players in this team who can contribute more than what they possibly have been in recent times.

''I think that is a positive to take out of the situation. Obviously it is not a great situation that we are in, having lost VJ. But we've just got to move on and make the best of it.

''Since learning the news, the boys have been really good. We're obviously really shocked but I think they've done an amazing job and certainly made my transition an easy one.''

Otago selector James Lovelock will join the side in Wellington for its one-day game against the Firebirds at the Basin Reserve tomorrow. He will assist with managerial duties to allow King to focus on his coaching role.

The Volts have been forced into making two changes from the side which lost to Northern Districts on Wednesday.

Spinner Nathan McCullum and all-rounder Jimmy Neesham have joined the Black Caps for the ICC world twenty20 in Bangladesh later this month.

They have been replaced by Mark Craig and Sam Blakely. Craig is a regular starter in the first-class side but Blakely is a rookie.

He has played just the one one-day game for Otago and that was at the end of last summer. He took two for 57 against Canterbury. The 20-year-old took a break from training with the Volts earlier in the summer to concentrate on his studies. Upon returning he picked up a few injuries.

''It is only really now that he has been at 100% all summer,'' King said.

''But he has been training hard over the last couple of weeks and he is ready to play.''

Blakely, whose sister Caitlin plays for the Otago Sparks, has been troubled by an ankle, an elbow and a shoulder complaint. They have all been niggly injuries rather than anything serious.

Experienced batsman Neil Broom this week joined the swollen injury list which includes James McMillan and Jacob Duffy. He missed the match against Northern because of a sore knee and it is unclear how long he will be sidelined.

There is some relief in sight with seamer Ian Butler expected to play club cricket for University-Grange today.

Butler had a lumbar injection last month to help with inflammation and pain. He has been bowling in the nets but needs to get his workload up before being considered for Otago. He has been sidelined since the opening game of the summer.

Ford Trophy: Otago v Wellington
Basin Reserve, Wellington.
When: Tomorrow, 10.30am.
Otago: Aaron Redmond, Hamish Rutherford, Michael Bracewell, Ryan ten Doeschate, Jesse Ryder, Sam Wells, Derek de Boorder (captain), Mark Craig, Neil Wagner, Bradley Scott, Nick Beard, Brad Rodden.
Wellington: James Franklin (captain), Brent Arnel, Tom Blundell, Grant Elliott, Mark Gillespie, Andy McKay, Steve Murdoch, Michael Papps, Jeetan Patel, Luke Ronchi, Matt Taylor, Luke Woodcock, Henry Walsh.

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