Lack of partnerships has cost side more than anything else

Otago opener Hamish Rutherford has been one of the better performed Volts batsmen but has still...
Otago opener Hamish Rutherford has been one of the better performed Volts batsmen but has still been well below his best in the twenty20 tournament. Photo: Peter McIntosh
The domestic twenty20 tournament has reached the midway point and Otago finds itself winless and anchored at the bottom of the competition standings. Cricket writer Adrian Seconi puts his spin on what is going wrong.

PARTNERSHIPS

You do not need a computer the size of a room to work out just where Otago has been losing its games. The batting has been awful, the bowling has been poor and the Volts are making mistakes at key times. That is pretty much the blueprint for every losing team and Otago has been sticking to the script with religious zeal. But when you narrow it down, it is the lack of batting partnerships which has cost Otago more than anything else. The Volts have put together just two partnerships of 50 or more. The best was 57 between Shawn Hicks and Brad Wilson for the seventh wicket in the 106-run loss to Northern Districts in Hamilton.

A SWING AND A MISS

Otago’s much-vaunted batting line-up struggled during the Plunket Shield and the problems have followed it into the Super Smash. Some of the batting averages could really make you weep.

It is a small sample but Black Cap Neil Broom has scored three runs in two innings. Josh Finnie has 13 runs at 4.33 and really needs to deliver on his potential soon or face an extended period on the sideline. Newly-promoted Black Cap Anaru Kitchen has not stood out either, with 18 runs at an average of six.

Classy all-rounder Jimmy Neesham has had a hard time with the bat and the ball. His haul of 18 runs at an average of six and some expensive stints at the crease resulted in him being dropped for the last game.

Former international Hamish Rutherford scored a half-century on Thursday but he has scored just 64 runs at an average of 16. He is a much better player than that.

Rob Nicol (117 at 39) and Shawn Hicks (93 at 31) have been useful without setting the tournament alight.

THE NUMBERS DON’T LIE

The wickets column is important but it is economy which largely determines a bowler’s value in twenty20. Anything under eight is pretty decent and you will  find only two Otago players in that category. One of them is spinner Ben Lockrose and he has played just one game. The other is fast bowler Warren Barnes and he has been the pick of the Otago pacemen with seven wickets at an average of 15.71. His economy of 7.95 is good, considering the hammering his team-mates have been getting.

Neil Wagner is the king of the bumper in test cricket but, with the white ball, his returns are nowhere near as impressive. He has one for 70 and is going for 8.57 an over. Jacob Duffy has seven wickets but he is going for 9.5 an over. Spinner Mark Craig is slightly more expensive at 9.55 and has no wickets to his name.

Neesham has taken five wickets but has been clouted for 11.27 runs an over, while Kitchen has been the most expensive. He has one wicket and is going for nearly 13 runs an over.

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY?

There have been one or two grumblings coming out of the camp about the amount of training the Otago team does under the current regime. The team is working much harder than it has previously and, when the results are not going your way, it is only natural to want to train even harder. But is that the answer? Thorough preparation is a must but mental freshness is equally important. It must be a tricky balancing act. The Otago camp does seem more intense than it has been previously. That might not mesh well with the culture in the South, where everything is just a bit more relaxed.

NEXT ASSIGNMENT

The Volts play Wellington at the Basin Reserve tomorrow. Neither side has been announced yet but Wellington is unlikely to make too many changes, if any, to the team which beat Canterbury by five wickets in the capital on Thursday. Otago might want to look at giving seamer Matt Bacon a run. He has been performing well at club cricket. Leg-spinner Michael Rippon is out injured although he is likely to play for the Otago A side in a game against the Bangladesh under-19 team in Dunedin tomorrow. Batsman Brad Wilson has been 12th man for the past two games. Given the form of the top order, the Volts may want to look had how they can better use the experienced campaigner.

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