Otago Daily Times

Coach seeks to get most out of Sparks

CRICKET Former internatio­nal and longservin­g Otago opener Craig Cumming will coach the Otago Sparks this summer. He caught up with cricket writer Adrian Seconi before the team’s seasonopen­er against Canterbury in Oamaru today.


YOU have seen him play. You have heard him talk. Now, Craig Cumming has to harness all that knowledge and use it to get the best out of his players.

The 45yearold former Otago and Black Caps opener forged an impressive firstclass career.

He played 147 firstclass games — 95 for Otago — and scored 9142 runs at an average of 38.25.

The righthande­r also amassed 147 list A game and 44 twenty20 matches during a 19year career.

Cumming got all the way to the top as well. He played 11 tests and 13 oneday internatio­nals.

Not long after he retired in 2012, Cumming began a broadcasti­ng career and built a reputation for his analysis. He plans to lean on those skills in his new role as Sparks coach.

‘‘One of the things I want to bring to the game is an ability to do some real good research and scouting on the opposition,’’ he said.

‘‘Instead of just turning up and playing, we want to be really organised and have definite plans.

‘‘That is one of the things you’ll see with the Sparks this year.

‘‘For those who know me, and listened to me as a commentato­r, will know I love that side of the game. I like picking apart the opposition and trying to come up with plans, so we will be doing that with the opposition.

‘‘And if the opposition do have success, it is going to be hard because we are going to ask them to play really well.’’

Cumming has a New Zealand Cricket level 3 coaching qualificat­ion and has been coaching since he retired from playing.

But this is his first stint as a head coach at this level and the Sparks will be missing some key players.

Star player Suzie Bates is out for the season. The White Ferns batswoman injured her shoulder while competing in the Big Bash.

Bates would have been available for the twenty20 campaign, so it is a big loss.

Veteran wicketkeep­erbatswoma­n Katey Martin will be available from the second round of the oneday competitio­n.

Otago: Bella James (c), Caitlin Blakely,

Gemma Adams, Millie Cowan, Polly Inglis, Olivia Gain, Sophie Gray, Saffron Wilson, Eden Carson, Emma Black, Marina Lamplough, Sophie Oldershaw.

Canterbury: Frankie MacKay (c), Sarah Asmussen, Missy Banks, Nat Cox, Kate Ebrahim, Georgia Edge, Emma Kench, Laura Hughes, Allie MaceCochra­ne, Jacinta Savage, Jess Simmons, Kate Sims, Gabby Sullivan.

The White Fern has been in Australia working as a commentato­r.

And fellow internatio­nal Hayley Jensen is on standby for the Big Bash in Australia and is not expected to be available for the Sparks until later in the season.

Cumming hopes Jensen will be available for the Sparks’ opening twenty20 game against Auckland, at Molyneux Park on December 28.

The Sparks welcome back Polly Inglis. She missed last season but has returned from the United Kingdom and will bolster the team’s experience.

Former Auckland player Gemma Adams has moved down to Dunedin to study and is a talented rightarm pace bowler and hardhittin­g top order batswoman.

Nelson allrounder Saffron Wilson also joins the squad this season. She is a rightarm medium pacer and will slot into the middle of the batting order.

Emma Black will spearhead the attack again, while the hardhittin­g opener, Millie Cowan, is back for another campaign, as is the experience­d Caitlin Blakely.

‘‘We are a little bit underdone gamewise. We’ve only played a couple of [preseason] games but we’ve been very lucky that we’ve been training on grass down at the University Oval and working really hard.

‘‘We are excited about getting better every game and we are trying to set up an environmen­t where we can get better and work hard.

‘‘But I’m excited and I think we will do well this weekend.’’

The Sparks were winless in the Hallyburto­n Johnstone Shield last season but had a stronger squad in the twenty20 campaign and made the eliminatio­n final.

 ?? PHOTO GREGOR RICHARDSON ?? Gathering seam . . . Otago Sparks coach Craig Cumming retrieves some balls during a training session at Logan Park earlier this week.
PHOTO GREGOR RICHARDSON Gathering seam . . . Otago Sparks coach Craig Cumming retrieves some balls during a training session at Logan Park earlier this week.

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