Volts change out of PJs for shield return

Luke Georgeson in action. Photo: Getty Images
Luke Georgeson in action. Photo: Getty Images
The unfashionable, unloved, marginalised and forgotten forward defensive shot is set to make a return.

The leave is bound to make a cameo appearance as well.

Plunket Shield cricket resumes around the country today.

It has been hiding out the back while the pyjama cricket wraps up.

Its status has very much been reduced to that of a development tournament these days, which means there will be a host of unfamiliar names gracing the various team sheets.

Otago has not experimented too much, though.

Top-order batter Jamal Todd will get another opportunity for the Volts, having shown ability to occupy the crease in the earlier rounds.

Seamer Travis Muller missed the opening four games through injury, but is back to join Jacob Duffy, Jarrod McKay and Luke Georgeson in a four-pronged pace attack.

Georgeson struck some rich form with both the ball and the bat in the later rounds of the list A competition, and will be hoping to use that as a springboard.

Otago have some ground to make up in the Plunket Shield.

The Volts (20 points) are nestled near the bottom of the standings and are hosting Auckland (17), who will be equally desperate to secure an outright.

Some strong results at the back end of the Ford Trophy led to renewed confidence, Otago coach Dion Ebrahim suggested.

"We’ve definitely got some momentum that we are looking forward to taking into the Plunket Shield," he said.

"It is an easier transfer in formats going from Ford Trophy to Plunket Shield. You need very similar skill sets."

Otago was hammered in the opening round by an innings and 32 runs by Northern Districts in Hamilton in October. They were rolled for just 77 in their second innings.

The Volts held on for a draw against Canterbury in Christchurch the following week. That was a catalyst for some improved performances.

They got into positions to beat both Central Districts and Northern Districts in the next two games in Dunedin, but were not able to bat well enough in the final innings and suffered two close losses.

"They guys have learnt from that, and you saw that in the follow-up with our run in the Ford Trophy," Ebrahim said.

"For us to get so close just showed the growth of our batting unit, which is relatively young in terms of domestic cricket."

Runs have been a problem, though.

Dale Phillips has been the best of the under-performing Otago batting lineup. He has posted 285 runs at an average of 35.63.

Wicketkeeper Max Chu (255 at 31.88) is the next most productive batter. It is very lean after that.

Jacob Duffy has led the way with the the ball. He has 21 wickets at an average of 18.33. That is more than twice as many scalps as any of the other Volts bowlers.

In the other games, Northern Districts will host Central Districts at Bay Oval, and Canterbury play Wellington in Rangiora.

Plunket Shield

Dunedin, 10.30am

Otago: Jacob Cumming, Jamal Todd, Dale Phillips, Dean Foxcroft, Thorn Parkes, Luke Georgeson, Max Chu, Ben Lockrose, Travis Muller, Jacob Duffy, Jarrod McKay, Jake Gibson.

Auckland: Will O’Donnell, Sean Solia, Robbie O’Donnell, Mark Chapman, George Worker, Harjot Johal, Cameron Fletcher, Jock McKenzie, Louis Delport, Danru Ferns, Ben Lister, Ryan Harrison.