By Jacob Page Timaru Herald
South Canterbury look set to debut 14-year-old quick bowler Mark Otley in the Mark Parker Memorial cricket match against an Otago A selection on Sunday at Aorangi Oval.
With the fast bowling stocks low in South Canterbury, the Timaru Boys’ High School (TBHS) opening bowler, who already stands close to 1.85 metres may get a start as coach Robin Beeby and selector John Davies take a punt on trying to fill the gap when the team is announced today.
If he is selected, it would make Otley one of the youngest players ever to turn out for South Canterbury.
Otley has been training with the squad in the lead-up to the annual match played in honour of 27-year-old South Canterbury player Mark Parker, who was killed in the Bali bombings in 2002.
It will be the first match of the season for the South Canterbury team as they prepare for the Hawke Cup competition.
Otley showed plenty of potential last season, as he took part in the Canterbury Cricket Pace Bowling Academy for emerging players.
Part of the selection criteria for the academy was that he must show the potential to play first class cricket.
He was also named South Canterbury Under 16 Cricketer of the Year.
Quality fast bowlers appear scarce in South Canterbury with last year’s leading wicket-taker, Englishman Matt Woods, not returning and the two English imports this season being batsmen.
Waimate’s Simon Murphy, who was 12th man for the Hawke Cup challenge in Rotorua last season, has not committed to club cricket so far this season while Temuka veteran Kevin Teahen is seemingly on the outer and his young team-mate Nathan McNicol has been unable to force his way back into the team since he was pummelled for 86 runs in nine overs in the corresponding fixture 12 months ago.
Even a medium pace seam option is gone with former captain Dan Laming making himself unavailable this season.
The most likely fast bowling options appear to come from Star’s Craig Hinton, and Celtic’s Ben Watson and James Blackstock, with the latter making a strong case for a callup in the latter part of last season and the start of this campaign.
TBHS wicket-keeper/batsman Michael Hogan also is a chance of a recall.
The 18-year-old has been considered the best long term option for the wicketkeeping role since his debut but has only played sporadically.