Duffy ready to take on old mates in final
Metro Tigers' opening batsman Ryan Duffy is anticipating his fair share of barbs from the Kaikorai side in Sunday's Southland-Otago knockout cricket final in Dunedin.
He knows the opposition better than most, after turning out for the Dunedin club over the past three years, while studying physical education at the University of Otago.
Kaikorai were unable to give Duffy too much of a hard time last year in the same competition, with the Southland Hawke Cup player only lasting two balls before he was dismissed.
Duffy said his Kaikorai mates had been strangely quiet in the lead-up to the final, but expected a different situation when he was batting on Sunday.
"There'll be a few words exchanged, no doubt," Duffy said.
"They're all good guys. I chose to play for Metro the last two years (in the knockout competition) to keep Southland cricket as strong as I could and increase the level down here."
The Metro Tigers sealed a berth in the final after an upset three wicket victory over leading Dunedin side Green Island, in the semi-final, two weeks ago.
It is the first time a Southland side has made the final of the competition and Duffy said the Tigers were not scared of Kaikorai after beating them in a thrilling game last season.
Kaikorai are spearheaded by fringe Otago Volts' player Iain Robertson, who has been a prolific run-scorer in Dunedin club cricket since shifting south from Canterbury. He is also a more than useful offspin bowler.
Duffy stressed his team would have to get rid of Robertson early on, if they were to overcome their more favoured opponents.
The Metro Tigers' success in the knockout competition has been built around their ability to get strong contribution from several different players with both bat and ball.
Duffy said that would again be integral, if his side was to knock over Kaikorai on their Bishopscourt home ground.
"The last two games, everyone has stepped up and done their bit. The key is to bowl them out cheaply."
The Tigers have a huge incentive to perform, with the winner booking a spot at the national club finals tournament in Auckland in April.
Duffy has been in pleasing early season form with the bat, which included a half century for Otago A in a two-day warmup game against their Canterbury counterparts. The keeper-batsman will again be an important member of the Otago squad for the provincial A competition, which runs from January 2 to 9.
With Volts' skipper Derek de Boorder's inclusion in the Black Caps' Twenty20 side to face South Africa, there is a vacancy behind the stumps for Otago's four-day Plunket Shield game against Central Districts in Dunedin, beginning on Monday.
Duffy said he had yet to hear from the Volts' camp, but would jump at the chance to make his domestic first class debut and line up alongside younger brother Jacob in the Otago side. Michael Bracewell is expected to wear the gloves for the Volts' Twenty20 game against Northern Districts on Friday night and shapes as the frontrunner for the Plunket Shield clash.
Duffy has worked hard on his strength and conditioning over the off-season and fitted in extra batting sessions during June and July.
He said he needed to score heavily in provincial A cricket, while also being consistent with his wicketkeeping, to force his way into the Volts' reckoning.
"In the off-season we all train together (at the Volts). You're part of that set-up. It's the dream basically. It would be good to play alongside Jacob.
"I think it's helped my chances with him being in the team. They're more aware of me."
Mark Beer (capt), Matt Burgess, Henry Burns, Hamish Cooke, James Crisp, Jacob Duffy, Ryan Duffy, Hamish O'Brien, Brayden Lindsay, Karl McKee, Jason Osborne, Rajinder Singh, Mitchell van Schaik (two to be omitted).
The Southland Times