Kitchen to step away from first-class game

Anaru Kitchen
Anaru Kitchen
Six and out will take on a whole new meaning for Otago next season.

Black Cap Anaru Kitchen is the latest in a long list of players who will be unavailable for the Otago first-class team this summer.

The 34-year-old has accepted an Otago contract and will continue to play limited-overs cricket for the province.But the transplanted Aucklander has ruled out playing in the Plunket Shield, bringing the number of players who have moved on or not available for the Otago first-class side to six.

The aggressive right-hander joins Neil Broom, who has also called stumps on his first-class career but will continue to play in the coloured clothing, while Neil Wagner and Jimmy Neesham have transferred to Northern Districts and Wellington respectively.

Veteran wicketkeeper Derek de Boorder has moved to Wellington to pursue a career in banking and former international Rob Nicol has retired from the game.

Otago coach Rob Walter is on leave but assistant coach Anton Roux revealed Kitchen’s decision to step away from the longer format was so he could spend more time with his Auckland-based young family and focus on representing New Zealand in limited-overs cricket.

"If this is the way for Anaru to continue to play cricket and push for a Black Caps spot in 50-over and T20 cricket, then so be it," Roux said.

"We’d rather have that than him not playing cricket at all."

Kitchen, who transferred to Otago in 2015, has scored 4434 runs in 72 first-class games at a healthy average of 37.57, including 10 centuries. Three of those hundreds were scored at the University Oval, including a blazing double century.

His bowling improved with the move south to the point his left-arm spin was considered an asset. He chipped in with nine wickets at an average of 27.33 last season, so his absence will have an impact on the balance of the Otago side.

"He batted in the top order and gave us an option with the ball so now we need to try to get the same work rate from someone like Shaun Hicks. Can he bat in the top order and give us a few overs with the ball?

"We just have to see if we can keep the balance the same."

The missing players were all key cogs in the line-up, so Otago faces a challenging rebuild.

"In any set-up if you lose an experienced group of players like that it is almost impossible to replace.

"It is also a fresh opportunity for everybody else involved to put up their hand and show what they are made of."

Northern Districts has lost a player as well, after former international Anton Devcich declined a provincial contract because of an opportunity to play in the Big Bash League in Australia.

Devcich was named New Zealand Cricket and Northern Districts T20 player of the year last season.

He has played in T20 leagues around the world including the Caribbean Premier League and Pakistan Super League.

"My goal is to represent the Black Caps and to do that I need to improve and gain more experience in pressure situations," he said in a statement.

Devcich will still be available to play for Northern Districts as an uncontracted player. 

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