Otago Volts have made a couple key signings in recruiting Dean Foxcroft from Central Districts Stags and Nick Kelly from Northern Districts Knights to bolster their group, while CD Stags have no need for any drastic changes to their contracted list for the upcoming summer. Otago have been in an awkward spot of limbo in recent seasons and had recent doses of stink vibes with two of their better youngsters in Shawn Hicks and Warren Barnes stepping away from cricketing due to injuries.
Both Hicks and Barnes moved down from Auckland to join Otago, having a fairly immediate impact with the Volts. So for Hicks to fall victim to concussions, forcing him to retire at 23-years-old and 27-year-old seamer Barnes taking an indefinite break from cricket due to multiple injuries, is rotten luck. OG veteran Brad Wilson has also retired, leaving a leadership void.
All of this does however offer the opportunity to re-fresh the Volts roster and signing Foxcroft and Kelly does exactly that. It says a lot about the Stags group, that Foxcroft can be allowed to leave CD without any impact on the quality of their contracted list and Foxcroft will be eager to back up his impressive debut summer. Foxcroft has a small sample size List-A average of 51.80 (6inns) and while he didn't snap up any Plunket Shield opportunities last summer, he did impress with his offies to take 12w in 5inns @ 12avg/1.93rpo.
While Foxcroft looks to continue his development with Otago at 21-years-old, Kelly has been around for a few seasons now and hit a minor plateau last summer. Kelly averaged 23.75 in 8 Ford Trophy innings, while struggling to crack the Knights Plunket Shield team and a move south, will ideally see Kelly get consistent game time in all formats.
Kelly has shown promise throughout his career as a flashy stroke-player, who is lively in the field and does have some spin bowling upside. There are similarities between Kelly and Otago's Josh Finnie not only in their cricketing skillset, but also their career development as Finnie is another talented young cricketer who hasn't come close to stamping his mark on the domestic circuit. Kelly, Finne and Foxcroft could form a dynamic middle order for the Volts, while Neil Broom, Hamish Rutherford and Anaru Kitchen offer the experience.
Otago have also promoted Camden Hawkins to the contract list after he played six Plunket Shield games last summer. Hawkins is an opener, who hit four 50+ scores in 11inns, including a run of 50+ scores in each of his last three games earlier this year. Otago have two more contracts to offer.
Matt Bacon, Neil Broom, Mark Craig, Jacob Duffy, Josh Finnie, Dean Foxcroft, Camden Hawkins, Anaru Kitchen, Nick Kelly, Mitch Renwick, Hamish Rutherford, Michael Rippon, Michael Rae, Nathan Smith.
Not a whole lot needs to be said about CD's initial contract list as they can essentially re-up with the same group. With one more contract to be dished out, it could be interesting to see who gets that last spot, but ultimately this is another example of not necessarily having an abundance of top-tier Blackcaps talent can be a great asset. CD have the strongest list, mainly because their talent feels too good for domestic cricket but isn't playing consistently for Aotearoa and thus, availability is the single most important thing when talking about such talent levels.
Central Districts Stags
Doug Bracewell, Tom Bruce, Josh Clarkson, Dane Cleaver, Greg Hay, Willem Ludick, Adam Milne, Kieran Noema-Barnett, Ajaz Patel, Seth Rance, Bevan Small, Ben Smith, Blair Tickner, Ben Wheeler, George Worker.
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