Volts embark on journey back

No bat or ball required — but Monday shapes as a critical day for the Otago Volts, who are hoping to win back the public’s faith after a disappointing few seasons.

The players are officially contracted from September 1 but the hard work starts on Monday.

"It is very much a low-key day in terms of cricket skills but an important day," coach Rob Walter said.

There is a fitness testing planned for the afternoon but most of the time will be taken up by meetings.

The day will get under way with an induction. That could be a bit tiresome for some of the senior players, if there were many of them left.

The high-profile departures of Neil Wagner and Jimmy Neesham have stripped the team of some experience and X-factor.

Long-serving wicketkeeper Derek de Boorder has also moved on, and the captain, Rob Nicol, has retired after a brief stint with Otago at the end of a long career.

That is going to make winning more of a challenge for the Volts, who have finished last in five of the past six tournaments.

The poor run of form prompted the Otago Cricket Association to commission an independent review. This highlighted the need to enhance the culture and one of the ways the Volts plan to do that is to engage with the community more.

The squad will travel through to Invercargill late next week and Oamaru the following week.

Otago will also spend the best part of two weeks in Alexandra. A training camp and pre-season game against Canterbury is scheduled for late September/early October.

"We have a lot of work to do to renew the faith in this team and that is why we will be immersing ourselves in the community," Walter said.

"So, for example, in Invercargill we are probably going to get involved in the accelerator programme ... and we are looking at attending the football festival as well."

Otago will dispatch a couple of fast bowlers to Sydney during the second week of September. The Otago Cricket Association has struck up a relationship with Northern District Cricket Club and Warren Barnes and Michael Rae shape as the mostly likely candidates to head over for a brief stint before returning ahead of the season-opener against Northern Districts in Mt Maunganui beginning on October 10.

There is just one minor injury concern. Top-order batsman Josh Tasman-Jones fractured a bone in his foot four weeks ago but "is very close to being 100% again".

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