Duffy back, to Southland coach's delight

Southland have been bolstered with the return of Otago Volts squad member Ryan Duffy for their Hawke Cup showdown with Mid Canterbury starting in Ashburton today.

Duffy missed Southland's opening win over North Otago in December because of commitments with the Volts, but will slot back into the top order as a direct swap for Akash Christian, with the Indian Southern Institute of Technology student unavailable for this weekend's clash in Ashburton.

Southland coach Steve Jackson was delighted to have someone of Duffy's ability back in the mix.

"It's excellent to have him back. He's absolutely dead keen and he's a very important part of our team and planning. He's been playing some good cricket lately," Jackson said.

There is one other change to the team that beat North Otago by an innings last month.

Hamish Cooke has been ruled out because of a recurrence of a back injury and has been replaced by Bibhas Bibwas, who will be the overseas player in the 12.

Jackson said given the short nature of the competition, the 2013-14 campaign very much "hinged" on getting the right result in Ashburton this weekend.

Meanwhile, while much of the focus at the weekend will centre on just how Southland will fare against Mid Canterbury, it is also a crunch time in Southland's senior club declaration competition.

It is the final round in the competition, with only Invercargill-Old Boys and Albion still in the running.

Coincidentally, those teams will meet in today's final round, which will decide the competition winner.

Invercargill-Old Boys lead the competition with 105 points, while Albion have 98.

The second round of the one-day club competition will start next Saturday.

It is also an important day for the Combined Country competition with the final round of the 12-team round-robin competition before it splits into the top-six, bottom-six competitions.

The Metro Cubs, Riversdale, Waikoikoi and Wyndale are confirmed as top-six team while the Appleby Cannons, Tuatapere, Waikaka, Lumsden, Central-Western and Albion will scrap it out today for the other two spots.

Fairfax Media