New names likely to win contracts

Expect a few fresh names when Otago reveals its contracted players later this month.

The Volts had a tough summer, but have made some moves to help shore up the side.

Teenage opener Jacob Cumming (18) will be offered a contract, and left-arm spinner Ben Lockrose is almost certain to join him.

No real surprises there. The pair impressed when they had opportunities.

But the word is they will be joined by a mystery Canterbury seamer, and Otago is still on the look-out for a seam-bowling all-rounder to fill the void left by Nathan Smith when he transferred to Wellington last year.

Black Cap Glenn Phillips is, of course, transferring south. He will plug the gap in the batting order left by the retirement of Neil Broom.

He is contracted to New Zealand Cricket, so the Volts do not have to use one of their 16 slots on the hard-hitting right-hander.

Broom’s contract, in effect, is expected to go to South African-born all-rounder Dean Foxcroft. Foxcroft left New Zealand at the end of the 2019-20 season and has been unable to return due to border restrictions put in place following the outbreak of Covid-19.

But many of the hurdles preventing his return have been removed, and Foxcroft told the Otago Daily Times he hopes to return to New Zealand in August.

Foxcroft’s return is potentially bad news for fellow South African Travis Muller, though.

His route into the side has always been messy. Essentially, the qualifying player was competing with wrist spinner Michael Rippon and Foxcroft for one of the two restricted spots in the playing XI.

In Foxcroft’s absence, he got to play a lot more and was contracted last season. But he could suddenly find himself surplus to requirements.

Many sources have indicated Otago is chasing one of Canterbury’s seamers.

It is unclear who that player is, but players such as Sean Davey, Zak Foulkes or William O’Rourke might be more open to a move.

O’Rourke took nine first-class wickets at an average of 26.44 last season and seems the most promising of the trio.

Lockrose is expected to pick up the contract made vacant by the retirement of veteran all-rounder Anaru Kitchen. He played three one-dayers last season and nabbed six wickets at an average of 11.66.

Cumming is one of the best young openers in the country.

His promotion, though, could come at the expense of Mitch Renwick. Renwick moved from Central Districts to Otago to take his chances as a wicketkeeper-batter in 2018-19.

But the emergence of gloveman Max Chu meant he had to reinvent himself as a specialist top-order player.

His departure might depend on whether Nick Kelly remains with the Volts. The rumour is that he is considering moving on.

Otago Cricket Association Mike Coggan declined to discuss potential contract offers. However, he was happy to outline the process.

Each association will offer 10-15 contracts — 16 in total — during the first round of contracting. Those contracts had to be submitted by today and the players have until June 21 to decide whether to accept or decline. First round contracts will be made public on June 22.

The second round of contracting gets under way after that. But each association will have a good idea whom it can target in the second round and that work is under way now.

Otago cricket

Potential contracts

Matt Bacon, Max Chu, Jacob Cumming, Jacob Duffy, Dean Foxcroft, Jake Gibson, Nick Kelly, Ben Lockrose, Angus McKenzie, Jarrod McKay, William O’Rourke, Dale Phillips, Michael Rae, Michael Rippon, Hamish Rutherford, Josh Finnie.

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