Otago Daily Times
Volts find themselves needing a rebrand
OTAGO will need to rebrand quickly if it is to avoid dragging some disappointing twenty20 form into the remainder of the oneday tournament.
In a game of twenty20 Snakes and Ladders, the Volts rode the serpent all the way to the bottom of the board.
The sparkling brand of cricket it played last season unravelled rapidly.
Nick Kelly was unable to rediscover the touch he enjoyed 12 months earlier.
Dean Foxcroft was a nonstarter. Thanks to Covid19, he was left stranded in South Africa, unable to return to take up his playing contract.
That left openers Hamish Rutherford and Neil Broom carrying a heavy load.
The Volts had built a game plan around allout attack in the faith that someone in that top four would roll a six and hit a ladder.
They persisted with that plan even when it became apparent it was not working.
Broom was the best of the Otago batsmen. The veteran righthander scored 292 runs at a strike rate of 137.08.
Anaru Kitchen was the next best. He scored 229 runs at a good clip of 142.23.
But Rutherford’s highrisk game did not come off nearly enough for the Volts, and with Kelly not firing and Foxcroft missing, the class of 2021 lacked the depth of the previous season.
Too often the Volts’ hardworking bowling unit was left trying to defend an underpar target.
Foxcroft’s absence left a bigger hole that initially thought. He had the anchor role, and the Volts tried several players in his spot with little success.
Llew Johnson showed promise in the opening game of the season. He helped power the Volts to a ground record 219 for seven at Molyneux Park.
He clouted 72 from 44 but was unable to repeat the dose and was eventually dropped.
Josh Finnie could not nail his opportunities either. The No 4 spot proved troublesome for Otago and the Volts will need to find a solution before the oneday tournament resumes.
Otago started the oneday tournament with Finnie at No 4, but switched to Kitchen after a couple of games, and Kelly batted in the slot during the most recent onedayer.
Broom is best equipped to bat in the spot and the Volts may consider moving him there.
There was some talk Rutherford could bat there, and perhaps Dale Phillips is another option.
Phillips did not get a lot of opportunity during the twenty20 campaign, so might be due.
Nathan Smith batted at No 6 for New Zealand A and has strong potential with the bat. He could be a wildcard.
Mitchell Renwick is the incumbent keeperbatsman in the oneday side. But Max Chu closed the gap during the twenty20 campaign and cannot be far off a oneday debut.
Chu’s glovework is superior and his batting looks to have improved markedly.
Renwick has batted in the top order, though, so that move would require more rejigging.
And is Max O’Dowd an option in the lineup? He scored a century for Albion late last month and backed up by scoring a century for Otago A this week.
Which ever way the Volts lean, they will need to find an anchor — a batsman the other strokemakers can play round.
And the game plan may have to be dialled back to take advantage of a pretty solid bowling lineup.
Jacob Duffy has had a tough few months domestically but he remains the spearhead.
Michael Rae and Matt Bacon have 18 wickets between them and Travis Muller has had success as well.
Smith took three wickets and clobbered 81 in his only oneday game for the Volts so far, while wrist spinner Michael Rippon was in tremendous nick with the ball in the Super Smash and will be looking to transfer that form to the Ford Trophy.
Otago has three wins from six games and is in third place with four roundrobin games left.
It has a tough finish with backtoback games against Canterbury and Wellington.
The Volts made the oneday final last season.
But as they discovered in the Super Smash, form can be fickle from year to year.