Losses leave Volts with huge rebuilding job

Jacob Duffy.
Jacob Duffy.
Last one out ... well, you know how that one ends.

It is not quite that grim for Otago but next summer the team will be missing five first-choice players from its Plunket Shield side.

That is almost half an XI and more than 500 games' worth of experience gone or gone elsewhere.

A healthy turnover can be helpful but ideally those players would trickle away during the course of three or four years.

Instead, Otago faces a mammoth rebuilding job and news on the recruitment front has been eerily quiet.

If you roll the clock back four years, you quickly realise just how many wonderful players have retired or moved on.

The Volts used 20 players during the 2013-14 first-class campaign and just three of those players are expected to be contracted for Otago this summer - Mark Craig, Hamish Rutherford and Jacob Duffy.

Green Island left-armer Blair Soper played six games that season as well but he has not played for Otago since March 2016.

To put those losses into context, the Volts have lost the services of 16 players during the past four seasons compared with 20 players during the eight seasons before, and two of those players were overseas imports.

Otago has had four coaches since 2013-14 as well, adding to the feeling of instability.

While change is a constant for sports teams, the Volts have not had such a dramatic change to their roster from one season to the next in recent memory.

Four of the five players who have moved on have played test cricket.

Neil Wagner and Neil Broom are arguably the biggest losses. Wagner has transferred to Northern Districts, having taken 277 wickets at an average of 26.37 for the province.

Broom (6052 runs at an average of 42.02) will continue to play limited-overs cricket for the Volts but his production will be sorely missed at first-class level. Only Craig Cumming (6589 runs at 43.34) has scored more runs for Otago.

Jimmy Neesham hopes to rejuvenate his career in Wellington this summer and his absence strips the Volts of a rare quality all-rounder.

Rob Nicol became the latest player to leave. He announced his retirement on a social website on Saturday.

While the former international had a terrible season, he did captain the side and is another player with oodles of experience.

Gloveman Derek de Boorder is the only one of the five who has not played international cricket. He has accepted a banking job in Wellington and departs having made a record 344 dismissals for Otago - the most by any keeper for one province.


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