New focus on promising players

Kate Heffernan
Kate Heffernan
Cricket is all about building partnerships and Otago will be hoping its latest alliance proves productive.

The Otago Cricket Association (OCA) has joined forces with High Performance Sport New Zealand and the Otago Academy of Sport to put together a development programme for the region's promising crickets.

Among the 16-strong inaugural intake are some very familiar names and one international.

White Fern and Otago left-armer Kate Heffernan is joined by her twin, Georgia Heffernan, as part of the initial group. They are both talented netballers as well and have played for the Steel.

Georgia Heffernan
Georgia Heffernan
Spinner Ben Lockrose and batsman Llew Johnson made their debut for the Volts last season and have been including in the programme.

There is also a spot for Volts wicketkeeper-in-waiting Max Chu and talented all-rounder Hunter Kindley.

OCA talent and performance manager Simon Forde said he hoped the programme would provide the identified cricketers with the tools to be successful at the next level.

''We want to do a much better job of bringing our talented young players through our system, so when they do get selected they are ready to play,'' he said.

The players will get specialist strength and conditioning training. There are also a series of workshops focused on nutrition, mental skills and ''what we call athlete life to ensure they get that really good balance''.

''And, of course, there is access to the best coaches we have available. It will keep going right through the season and we will roll it over again next winter as we prepare.''

Forde said the group had been selected to be part of the programme because they were viewed as the players most likely to play a big part for the Volts or Sparks - sooner rather than later in many cases.

Forde hopes the partnership will benefit ''our outstanding group of young players as we look to improve the quality of our playing base coming through our pathway system''.

''It is definitely a retention tool [as well] and we want to be a place that people want to come to.''

Meanwhile, Forde said the OCA was very close to finalising the Volts selection panel.

''I should be able to do that over the next couple of days.''

An independent review of the Volts' season recommended changes to the selection panel and Forde is confident the right people have been found.

Add a Comment