Green attack for Otago in must-win games

Rob Walter.
Rob Walter.
Otago is in must-win territory and will lean on a green attack to deliver success.

The Volts play Canterbury at Hagley Oval today and have added Kaikorai seamer Ryan Whelan to their squad for the crucial game.

With regular seamers Michael Rae and Nathan Smith unavailable due to New Zealand A commitments, and Tommy Clout and Jacob Duffy ruled out with injury, Otago has had to siphon what remains from the reserve tank.

Whelan joins seamers Travis Muller (11 games) and Matt Bacon (18 games), who between them have played fewer than 30 one-dayers. It is an inexperienced trio but the best the Volts can muster at the moment.

Rae and Smith have worked hard to get an opportunity at the next level, and Duffy was with the New Zealand A team until he picked up a knee complaint.

It is a victory of sorts for Otago to contribute to the national programme. But the price the province pays is it will have to blood players such as Whelan a little earlier.

Volts coach Rob Walter said Whelan is a guy who has ‘‘ worked his way through our pathway’’.

He is a right-armer who bowls at a good clip — brisk rather than express — and has produced some useful performances for Otago A recently.

The Volts started the season without a full roster of seamers. It was always a couple light and there were some loose plans about drawing on a loan player or two if needs must.

And when you lose three front-line bowlers, there is a solid case for shipping in a player from another province. But Walter said the timing was not right.

‘‘The only time we would have looked at a loan player was if there was a real top-shelf seamer missing out due to overloaded stock. So, for example, if Central Districts had everyone available then that would mean there was a really good bowler missing out. But that has not been the case.

‘‘There has been lots of injuries and with New Zealand A and the Black Caps playing at the same time [the depth is not there]. So instead of getting a loan player who is of a similar standard it is an opportunity for us to play our own guys.’’

Otago is in fourth place in the competition standings with 15 points. Auckland leads the tournament with 28 points and is through to the three-team playoffs. Canterbury is in second place with 20 points and Wellington is in third spot with 16 points.

Otago will probably need to win its two remaining games to sneak into playoffs and it has to play the top two teams in its remaining two round-robin games, so it will not be easy.

Canterbury is without Black Caps pair Henry Nicholls and Tom Latham but welcomes back international Matt Henry from injury.

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