Otago just not up to it, coach says

Rob Walter
Rob Walter
Otago coach Rob Walter is not sure which lever to pull next.

The Volts went into their Plunket Shield match with Auckland at Eden Park Outer Oval this week with a stacked batting line-up.

But their top order was no match for Aces fast bowler Lockie Ferguson, and Otago fell well short of the 321 runs it needed for victory.

The 26-year-old right-armer took seven wickets in the first innings and five in the second to claim his maiden 10-wicket bag.

He completed the 135-run win for Auckland yesterday with a bouncer which Michael Rae gloved through to the keeper.

But Otago's fate was sealed on day three when it slumped to 66 for five.

Derek de Boorder occupied the crease for twice as long as any of his team-mates in a defiant knock of 39.

Had more adopted his approach, Otago may have escaped Auckland with a win. The Volts certainly had an opportunity to grab glory.

``The sad thing is I'll look back at this game and say to myself, irrespective of what the result looks like, we actually had a great opportunity to win the game,'' Walter said.

``Personally, I felt that [321] was definitely on, and if we batted well we could have got there.

``I thought our bowlers brought us back into the game brilliantly [on Thursday] which was a huge positive.

``But our top order continues to struggle against pace and a ball that, let's be fair, was moving laterally off the seam. We just weren't up to it.''

While the Volts faced some challenging batting conditions against a bowler in career-best form, Walter expected more from his batting line-up and is not sure what his next move is.

``We are talking about guys who are highly experienced and you would expect that they would be able to draw on that experience and be able to come up with a plan - and they just haven't.

``At the end of the day, it is always a tricky one to understand what is the next step. What do you do with a unit like that who have a lot of caps under the belt?''

The reality is Walter could tinker with the order but the best players available were all in the team. He has little choice but to hope the players rediscover their touch.

There were some positives to emerge from the match for Otago. Fast bowler Warren Barnes took six wickets in his first-class debut and Black Caps all-rounder Jimmy Neesham looked sharp with the ball, picking up five wickets in the game.

Competition leader Wellington consolidated its spot at the top of the standings with an 82-run win against Northern Districts in Hamilton.

Logan van Beek claimed his first 10-wicket bag to help seal the win.

Central Districts beat Canterbury by an innings and 86 runs to secure its second outright win.

Central is in second spot in the standings, 15 points behind Wellington (60 points). Otago and Canterbury are tied for third with 25 points apiece with Auckland (24) and Northern (17) are at the foot of the table.


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