Otago changes gear in ‘challenging’ switch to limited overs

It is a Wednesday, so it must be ... 50-over cricket.

There is no point in Otago dwelling on Sunday’s crushing T20 loss at the hands of Central Districts, and the final-innings Plunket Shield collapse against Northern in Alexandra was so long ago (all of six days) that its memory is already fading.

Such is the structure of the domestic cricket campaign that players have to get used to their heads spinning as they switch from one format to the next, and back again.

The Volts will at least be in colours for an extended period now, starting with today’s Ford Trophy game in Wellington, but they — and the other teams, obviously — will still be skipping between T20 and 50-over cricket each week for a while.

Otago coach Dion Ebrahim said the switch from four-day cricket to limited-overs so quickly had been "fairly challenging".

"While the skillsets are very similar, the subtle changes are where the performance elements lie.

"So for bowlers, it’s a matter of changing lengths, going from red ball cricket to being a fraction shorter in white ball cricket.

"And your whole tempo, and the way you start an innings, is on the opposite side of the scale.

"It’s challenging, but we’ve talked about it, and the guys are aware of the subtle changes that need to occur. We’re not rushing from one format to another without any preparation."

Otago scored some decent runs in the Super Smash opener on Sunday but the bowling attack was shredded by Dane Cleaver and Greg Hay.

Ebrahim said the Volts had a good review of the loss but needed to move on quickly to get ready for today’s game at the Basin Reserve.

"It’s one of those situations where you don’t want to get caught up in spending too much time on what has been.

"Hindsight becomes an easy tool, and you can lose sight of what’s ahead. You don’t want to spend too much time on a T20 review when you’ve got a 50-over game in a couple of days.

"We just looked at a couple of critical things that we think we can do better in white ball cricket."

Otago had a 5-5 record in the Ford Trophy last season, missing the elimination final by two points, and reached the final the previous season.

Veteran top-order batsman Neil Broom, coming off 471 runs (averaging 47) in 2019-20 and 328 runs (including four 50s) last season, will again be one of the keys with the bat, while Ebrahim hopes Josh Finnie will be productive if he can get consistent time out in the middle.

Anaru Kitchen has travelled north with the Volts but will not be in the 12 for today’s game, though he may play in Friday’s T20 game in Hamilton.

Jake Gibson is in line to make his List A debut for Otago.

Fellow pace bowler Michael Rae was still at least two weeks away from returning from a hamstring injury, Ebrahim said.

"We’re being quite cautious to ensure we are not rushing him.

"He also needs an opportunity to get some club cricket in him. We don’t want to risk casing further damage."

The other game today is between Auckland and Central.

Defending champion Canterbury and Northern opened the Ford Trophy with a rain-affected game in Hamilton yesterday. Northern (239-8 off 32 overs) lost to Canterbury (240-3 off 27.2 overs) by seven wickets.

Hayden Meikle

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