Small venue has batters licking lips

Dean Foxcroft. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Volts captain Dean Foxcroft. Photo: Gregor Richardson/ODT files
Otago batters have probably had this fixture circled for weeks.

There is nothing like a hit at Pukekura Park to get the blood pumping.

It is one of the smallest cricket venues around the country and a good place to break a lean run.

Volts captain Dean Foxcroft arguably fits into that category.

He has struggled to find his rhythm this season.

The 25-year-old notched a half-century in his last innings, which was a good sign ahead of today’s game against Central Districts.

It was not as free-flowing as he would have liked, but he will be hoping the time he spent at the crease was enough to loosen up the knot.

Foxcroft had a season with Central Districts in 2018-19 before transferring to Otago the following summer, but he is not that familiar with Pukekura Park and its dimensions.

He has only played the one T20 match there. He batted No 9 and was dismissed for 13.

It was not a great outing.

Otago’s last outing was not fantastic either. Auckland beat them by seven-wickets.

They retained the same 12 for the rained-off fixture against Northern Districts in Hamilton on Sunday, and the same group will front for today’s fixture.

The Volts have two more opportunities to make an impact in the Ford Trophy before the competition goes into hiatus until February.

The Super Smash gets under way in the week leading into Christmas and all the focus will shift to the shortest format.

They will host Canterbury in Invercargill on Thursday before switching formats.

The Volts have had a mixed start. They beat Auckland by 42-runs in their opening game, but lost the return match to the Aces at Eden Park Outer Oval.

And the washout against Northern Districts has left the Volts in third place with six points.

Northern Districts lead the standings with 11 points, from Auckland with eight points, Central (six points), Canterbury (five points) and Wellington (two points).

The next couple of games shape as critical.

Otago coach Dion Ebrahim could not be reached for comment. But he will lean on seamers Jacob Duffy and Matt Bacon to strike at the top.

Bacon is closing in on 50 list A games for the province. He is two matches away from the milestone and has taken 59 wickets at an average of 31.66.

He nabbed his maiden list A five-wicket bag in the opening game against Auckland.

Dale Phillips scored his maiden list A century in that match and is another key player in the lineup.

He is among the competition leading scores, as is Thorn Parkes.

The 23-year-old left-hander has scored back-to-back half centuries and has been a solid performer in the middle order.

Veteran opener Hamish Rutherford is always a threat and Foxcroft is due.

The Stags’ strength lies with their pace bowling trio of Bevan Small, Blair Tickner and Ray Toole.

Their batting lineup does not look as strong as in previous seasons, but Dane Cleaver is one of those players who has tormented Otago.

In 10 list A games against the Volts he has plundered runs at an average of 57.85.

Ford Trophy

New Plymouth, 10.30am

Otago: Hamish Rutherford, Luke Georgeson, Dean Foxcroft (captain), Dale Phillips, Thorn Parkes, Llew Johnson, Max Chu, Ben Lockrose, Travis Muller, Jacob Duffy, Matt Bacon, Ollie White.

Central Districts: Jack Boyle, Brad Schmulian, Dane Cleaver (captain), Curtis Heaphy, Josh Clarkson, Will Clark, Bayley Wiggins, Bevan Small, Jayden Lennox, Blair Tickner, Ray Toole, Liam Dudding.