Soper 'happy to be back' after long break

Blair Soper
Blair Soper
Blair Soper was not sure if he would ever be fit enough to play cricket at the top level again.

The Otago left-armer has been named in the 12 for the one-dayer against Wellington in Queenstown today.

It will be his maiden list A game and first game for Otago in more than three years.

The 28-year-old emerged around the same time as Otago captain Jacob Duffy (2012) and has played 11 first-class games.

But Soper suffered a shoulder injury in 2014 which required surgery. That put him out of the game for a period of time and the opportunities at the next level dried up.

He returned in 2016 but only managed 7.3 overs before picking up an injury.

Soper plugged away for champion club side Green Island and remained on the fringe of the Volts. But an injury to Michael Rae has provided him with a lifeline.

''I'm happy to be back,'' he said.

''I wasn't sure I was going to get my body back up to shape but it is hanging in,'' the diesel mechanic said.

Soper's ability to shape the new ball both ways enabled him to get the nod ahead of the likes of Travis Muller and Tommy Clout.

''That is pretty much the message for me. I've just got to keep doing what I've been doing.

''We've only just got on to grass in club cricket now. I sort of struggle on artificials a bit because I don't want to run in and hurt myself.

''But we've had a couple of weeks and I'm warming into it.''

Soper is one of two changes to the side which scored a 28-run DLS-method win against Northern Districts in Hamilton on Sunday.

Neil Broom returns from a forearm issue and replaces back-up keeper Max Chu.

Broom is the all-time Otago leading scorer in the format and his presence will significantly bolster the top order.

He will join the likes of Nick Kelly, who scored a century on debut for Otago, and Dean Foxcroft who is rated highly.

Wellington's Rachin Ravindra (19) will make his one-day debut. He is rated highly by New Zealand cricket and was called up to the New Zealand A squad before playing a domestic match for the Firebirds last season.

Ravindra's inclusion is one of two changes made to the squad by Firebirds head coach Glenn Pocknall.

Ravindra replaces Jakob Bhula at the top of the order and Jimmy Neesham returns from New Zealand A duty at the expense of fast bowler Ben Sears.

The game is a rematch of last season's final which Wellington won. The defending champion started the campaign with a four-wicket loss to Auckland.

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