Return of experienced Rutherford boost for Volts’ top order

Hamish Rutherford. Photos: ODT files
Hamish Rutherford. Photos: ODT files
Too early for a mid-term report? Actually, Otago’s game against Northern Districts at the University of Otago Oval tomorrow will mark the midway point in the round-robin.

It will also be the first time the Volts have been able to field their top side in the Ford Trophy.

New Zealand A commitments and injury has robbed the team of that opportunity.

Perhaps surprisingly, Otago has done tremendously well in the absence of players such as Jacob Duffy, Nathan Smith and Hamish Rutherford.

Aside from a hiccup against Auckland in round three, the Volts have played some good cricket and have registered three wins.

Depth has long been an issue for Otago, so it was pleasing to see players such as Travis Muller and Angus McKenzie play a key role with the ball in the win against Central Districts and Auckland respectively.

They have been dropped for tomorrow’s match to make room for Duffy and Smith.

Nathan Smith
Nathan Smith

Jacob Duffy
Jacob Duffy
Smith has missed all four one-day games for Otago this season but was a key contributor in New Zealand A’s big win against the West Indies A side in Mt Maunganui last week.

He picked up five wickets and scored a rapid 76 as well, while Duffy took six wickets and bowled well in Otago’s opening win against Central Districts at Pukekura Park last month.

Rutherford has missed the last two games through concussion but was in wonderful form at the top of the order. The experienced opener clouted 97 and 62 in back-to-back wins against the Stags.

Otago’s top order has been a little wobbly this season, so Rutherford’s return is an enormous boost.

He has got his strike rate up to close to 200 and, despite playing just half the games, is the competition’s sixth-leading scorer.

The 31-year-old left-hander is closing in on 2000 list-A runs for Otago. In 53 games for the province he has scored 1868 runs at an average of 38.91.

Rutherford and Neil Broom shape as the most-prized wickets in the batting line-up.

Broom is Otago’s all-time leading scorer in the format. He has amassed 3818 runs at an average 41.95 in 110 games for the Volts.

The veteran right-hander has notched an Otago record eight centuries and should reach the 4000-run milestone this season.

What a career he has had.

Anaru Kitchen has played more than 100 list-A games and is another threat, while Nick Kelly found some form in his last knock.

The Volts are missing Dean Foxcroft this summer but otherwise this is the line-up which reached the final and played such an attractive brand of cricket last season.

The Volts play Northern Districts in Dunedin again on Tuesday and a good couple of results would go a long way towards securing a place in the playoffs.

Ford Trophy

Otago v Northern Districts, Sunday, 11am start
Otago: Hamish Rutherford, Neil Broom, Mitch Renwick, Josh Finnie,  Anaru Kitchen,  Nick Kelly, Michael Rippon, Nathan Smith, Jacob Duffy (c), Michael Rae, Matt Bacon,  Dale Phillips.
Northern Districts (possible): Katene Clarke, Jeet Raval, Dean Brownlie, Henry  Cooper, Anton Devcich, Peter Bocock, Brent Hampton, Anurag Verma, Joe Walker,  Brett Randell, Matt Fisher, Bharat Popli.

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