Longer format still work in progress for Otago

The Otago Volts reprise their Plunket Shield campaign today.

They face Auckland at the Eden Park Outer Oval, as the team moves back to four-day cricket after three months playing with the white ball.

It has been a good three months for Otago too.

The twenty20 and one-day competitions produced quality cricket and strong results.

Both were ended in playoff matches against Auckland.

Otago coach Rob Walter is expecting this one to be the toughest of all its matches against the side.

As well as Auckland being a quality side, he admits the longer format is still a work in progress for Otago.

"I don’t have any issue saying the shorter formats are definitely our strength at the moment," he said.

"Part of our growth as a team is our four-day cricket. We’ve identified that’s something we want to do.

"Unfortunately, in those first three games we had 5½ days out of 12 rained out.

"So we were short on four-day cricket there. Again, our focus is just on getting better at this stage."

"We know the Auckland side are a very strong outfit who compete for trophies.

"They’ll be putting us under pressure and all I want to see from our guys is that they improve their game and show the kind of character required to play four-day cricket."

The side is a settled one, boasting the majority of the line-up that was in good form through the limited-overs campaigns.

Neil Broom will bring up 100 matches for Otago, having been forced to wait an extra few months.

He had been set to reach the milestone before Christmas, but a rained-out match followed by injury left him stranded on 99.

Spinner Mark Craig is missing with an ongoing back injury, while opener Hamish Rutherford will also miss the game after picking up a concussion last weekend.

Auckland has plenty of quality in its line-up.

Lockie Ferguson brings pace with the ball, while Martin Guptill, Glenn Phillips and Jeet Raval form the basis of a strong batting line-up.

Otago took most of the week off to mentally reset.

Walter feels being able to switch between formats is not so much the challenge.

It is more the amount of mental energy expended in the one-day playoff matches that may hinder the side.

 

Otago v Auckland

 
Auckland, 10.30am
Otago: Cam Hawkins, Anaru Kitchen, Dean Foxcroft, Neil Broom, Nick Kelly, Mitch Renwick, Nathan Smith, Michael Rippon, Jacob Duffy, Matt Bacon, Michael Rae, Max Chu.
Auckland: Robert O’Donnell, Jamie Brown, Mark Chapman, Louis Delport, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Ben Horne, Ben Lister, Matt McEwan, Glenn Phillips, Jeet Raval, Sean Solia.

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