Seasoned English pro joins Volts

The Otago Volts' new English signing Ben Raine hopes to have a positive impact with both the ball...
The Otago Volts' new English signing Ben Raine hopes to have a positive impact with both the ball and the bat.PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Big-hitting all-rounder Ben Raine has joined the Otago Volts to add more muscle to the top order and some bite with the ball.

The 27-year-old is the second English import to sign with the Volts for the Super Smash.

He joins Ben Cox, who has already made a positive impact behind the stumps.

Raine is an accomplished professional with a solid first-class career for Leicestershire and Durham.

He hit the headlines last year with a sensational 41-ball hundred in the T20 Blast.

Raine hit 10 sixes in a career-best 113 from 46 as Leicestershire saw off the Birmingham Bears in July.

The Volts will welcome that kind of power hitting from the left-hander. He is also a quality right-arm medium-pace bowler with 207 first-class wickets at an average 27.73.

Raine arrived in Dunedin on Wednesday and is set to be named in the Volts team today for its match against Central Districts at the University of Otago Oval on Sunday.

Raine will be under immediate pressure to produce. He is replacing Christi Viljoen in the side.

Viljoen is the Volts' leading wicket-taker in the competition but has been squeezed out because of rules which restrict the number of import and qualifying players a team can field.

Raine is a frequent visitor to New Zealand. It is his fifth trip down under but the previous four visits have been to play club cricket in Christchurch.

It is the lifestyle here which has kept him coming back but this trip is special.

"My two main goals in my career have been to play professionally in New Zealand and to play for England," he said.

"To get the opportunity to tick one of those boxes is great, to be honest."

As for that incredible day with the bat, Raine shrugged and said it was "just one of those days".

But his back story suggests he might have a few more of those days ahead - hopefully in Otago colours.

Raine started off his career as an opening batsman for Durham but moved to Leicestershire to fill a bowling slot. He worked hard and turned himself into a very fine seamer.

"I've always thought of myself as a batter. It is just the last five or so years I've been bowling and batting down the order.

"But I was used [last] year as a bit of a pinch-hitter and was never going to let the opportunity go.

"The first real crack I got I got that hundred and didn't really look back from there.

"I actually got dropped on four, so that just shows how fickle the game can be."

Raine typically bowls during the power plays and the death, so his career economy rate of 8.84 reflects that. But while he has taken some punishment, he is not one to shy away from the action.

"I love the pressure situations, if I'm honest. It is the time when you can make a big difference in a game and that is what I love to do.

"I love the drama and the whole circus act of the death. It is probably my favourite stage of any game, whether I'm batting or bowling.

"That is why I'm here. But to be fair, the lads have done very well without me."

 

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