Walter mindful overseas opportunities lost for Otago players

Rob Walter
Rob Walter
A lot of promising cricketing careers began in the hallway or the backyard.

For the next four weeks that is about the best players will be able to manage — try not to break a window.

The country is in lockdown while it battles the spread of the coronavirus.

For half a dozen Otago players it has meant changing their overseas travel plans.

Opener Hamish Rutherford had a contract with Worcestershire while Nick Kelly, Matt Bacon, Nathan Smith, Michael Rae and Josh Finnie were heading to the United Kingdom as well.

Playing cricket overseas is a rite of passage for many young cricketers but those plans will need to be deferred.

Otago coach Rob Walter has had to abandon his own plans. He was meant to travel home to South Africa in mid-April with his wife Heather and sons William (3) and Matthew (2).

Domestic cricket in New Zealand has not been too badly impacted by Covid-19.

The season was called off two weeks early but the sport was winding down anyway.

Otago team training does not resume until June or July, and player reviews, which usually take place at this time of the year, are going ahead as normal albeit via video calls.

The biggest impact is the loss of overseas playing opportunities, Walter said.

"I think those are invaluable opportunities to be playing week-in, week-out in different conditions against different opponents with very different challenges along the way," Walter said.

Walter will be busy for the next two weeks reviewing the season and conducting player reviews.

"I’ll take stock after Easter and see what is next."

Those reviews are likely to be largely positive.

The Volts made the final of the one-day competition and also made it into the playoffs of the twenty20 tournament.

The team finished the season strongly with back-to-back wins in the Plunket Shield to climb into third place.

That was a big improvement on previous seasons. Otago has struggled in the first-class format in recent years.

"Whilst we didn’t get any silverware, to be the only team who was in the top three in all formats I would see as a bloody good season.

"The feeling is really positive. For the most part the guys played really good cricket.

"It is nice to reflect on that and figure out how we are going to move forward."

Walter hopes "everything will be back on track" in September’.

"Maybe that is a little bit romantic, I’m not sure."

The Volts start training in June last year but if they have to put training off until July it is not a major setback.

The domestic season does not get under way until October, so there will still be time to prepare adequately.


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