Otago needs to win critical moments

Rob Walter.
Rob Walter.
''I suppose that's the million-dollar question,'' Otago coach Rob Walter responded when asked what his side could do better to reverse its run of disappointing results.

The Volts made a positive start to the one-day campaign with back-to-back wins but have lost their past four games.

It has left their playoff prospects teetering and fans baffled. The team has the personnel to be competitive and there is no obvious solution for the form slump to be found in the statistics either.

The batting averages are on the lean side but the team has two players averaging more than 40 and another three players with a solid return in the 30s.

The bowling has been more of a struggle but Jack Hunter has 10 wickets at an average of 21.60. Jacob Duffy had a poor outing against Canterbury but his overall record of six for 150 at an average of 25 is decent.

And Michael Rae impressed in the last game with three for 45.

The big surprise has been the poor form of Neil Wagner. The Black Caps test bowler has one for 137 in three games, while Hamish Rutherford has laboured with the bat since making a century in the opening game.

''If you want to pick it apart and find things that are wrong that aren't wrong then you can potentially go around in circles,'' Walter said.

''For me, we just haven't won the critical moments in games, so that is why you would look at stats that don't look too bad.

''You see guys getting scores, yet you still don't win. Why? It's because you don't dominate the critical moments.

''There is a lot of science to say that we are not that far off but it is actually just about stringing it together and really dominating the critical moments, which is where the senior players need to step up.''

Asked if there were any off-field concerns holding the team back, Walter said he did not believe there were ''any glaring issues from a cultural point of view''.

''It is not like the Volts have just developed some new strange thing.

''We have a lot of work to do as a team. This team, to be fair, has a history of average performance.

''It is not like this thing just happened today, it has been over time.''

It has been 10 years since Otago last won the one-day competition. The team has not won the first-class title since the summer of 1987-88, so Walter has a point - success in those formats is rare for Otago.

The Volts can still slip into the one-day playoffs with one win from their remaining two round-robin games but will need other results to go their way.

That makes today's match against Northern Districts at the University Oval a must-win, really.

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