Otago Volts' good vibrations yield results
OPINION: The Volts and the Otago Cricket Association deserve some pretty hefty praise at the moment.
There is a lot to like about what is brewing at the University Oval headquarters and there are many different reasons and many different people that have aligned to make this happen.
Throughout the HRV Cup Twenty20 competition the Volts quickly became the standout team in the series by a long shot.
Only a freakish performance from Jesse Ryder was ever going to stand in the way of the Volts winning that competition and that never eventuated.
Man for man the Volts were the best team in the competition and they played like it, winning 10 games in a row - a feat difficult to achieve in T20 cricket.
But for me it is what followed, that HRV Cup win on January 20, that has demonstrated that there's something quite special being created by Volts and that they can class themselves as ruthless at the moment.
Away from the glitz and glamour of qualifying for the Indian Champions League with a win over Wellington on live television, it could have been quite easy to drop their guard.
When the sell-out crowd that attended the T20 final was reduced to a handful of spectators for their four-day game starting on Thursday against Wellington at the University Oval, they could have been excused for being blindsided following the celebrations of the T20 win.
Instead, though this team was anything but lethargic or complacent, they took their reputation to a new level.
There was no hangover, just more loud statements that they are a team on top of their game.
Just days after they won New Zealand's premier domestic cricket competition, the HRV Cup, the Volts put Wellington to the sword in the four-day competition.
In the process they wrote their names in the record books.
They bowled Wellington out for 254 before racking up 651 for nine declared - the highest score ever produced by Otago in a first-class match.
They then skittled Wellington for 157 in their second innings to record an innings and 240 run win.
So just where has this come from and just why has the class of 2012/13 fast become something to marvel about?
Without being too close to the team it does seem culture is a key contributor.
By all accounts Australian legend Brett Lee marvelled at just what a good feel there was within the group when he made a guest appearance for the Volts in the HRV Cup.
A sporting team that enjoys each other's company and is after the same thing is more likely to succeed - and with the Volts that is evident.
Another factor I'd suggest Otago cricket is getting right is the balance between recruitment and upskilling their existing players.
When they bring in players those players are making an impact, Ryan ten Doeschate and James Fuller, the recent examples.
But there is a realisation that getting the best out of the home-grown players and providing them opportunities is just as important in building a positive future for the organisation.
Hamish Rutherford, Nick Beard, Michael Bracewell, Blair Soper and Southland's Jacob Duffy are clear examples of this.
Having players who are from within the region helps build a connection between the public and the team.
In the case of Duffy's elevation to the Volts that has certainly been true with Southland cricket followers.
Dropping the Otago tag would be another major step forward to encompass the support of the entire region but that's a debate better left for another day.
At the moment the Otago Volts need to be commended for what they are doing, whatever the name is.
THE RECORD HIGHEST FIRST-CLASS SCORES BY OTAGO
651-9 dec – v Wellington 2013
624 all out – v Central Districts 2006/07
602-8 dec – v Canterbury 1928/29
601-9 dec – v Canterbury 2006/07
589 all out – v Canterbury 1931/32
576-8 dec – v Northern Districts 2009/10
571-8 – v Central Districts 1995/96
558-8 dec – v Auckland 1949/50
548-7 dec – Central Districts 1996/97
543-8 dec – v Central Districts 1978/79
- The Southland Times