T20 returns to Queens Park

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    Central Stags all-rounder Josh Clarkson is bowled by Otago Volts player Michael Rae for 3 during Tuesday's Super Smash twenty20 cricket game at Queens Park.

    RESULT aside, Southland Cricket Association officials were a delighted bunch after New Zealand’s domestic twenty20 cricket competition returned to Invercargill this week.

    Queens Park hosted the Otago Volts Super Smash fixture against the Central Stags on Tuesday.

    It was the first national domestic twenty20 game to be played in Invercargill since the Volts and Stags clashed at Queens Park in December 2010.

    The shortest format is regarded New Zealand Cricket’s premier competition, in terms of trying to draw crowd numbers and general interest, and before Tuesday Queens Park had in recent years been overlooked as a home venue for Volts twenty20 home games.

    Otago Volts batsman Hamish Rutherford faces a delivery.

    The return was not a pleasant one for the Volts, given they were thumped by 118 runs at the hands of the Central Stags. However, as a day out Southland Cricket Association general manager Jason Domigan was delighted.

    “From a Southland Cricket Association point of view, we were very happy with the day,” he said.

    “Good weather, good turnout, good pitch, good outfield. It was fantastic.”

    A crowd of just over 800 turned up for the game.

    Domigan was pleased with the interest but did concede he was not yet sure f it would be enough to continue to attract twenty20 games to the city in future years.

    While the Volts were poor, the Central batsmen provided plenty of entertainment for the Southland cricket fans in attendance as they blasted 217 from their 20 overs after Otago won the toss and opted to bowl first.

    Opener Christian Leopard set the tone for Central with a blistering 52 from just 22 balls before captain Will Young and Black Cap Tom Bruce got in on the act.

    Young struck 79 from 43 balls and Bruce 42 from 24 balls as Central got through to the daunting total of 217.

    The Central batsmen cleared the Queens Park boundary 14 times as it rained sixes in Invercargill.

    Otago never looked all that likely in their reply as they lost wickets far too regularly and ended up being bowled out for just 99.

    It means Otago have won just one out of nine games in this season’s twenty20 competition and is a team very much down on confidence.

    The Volts will finish their twenty20 campaign against Auckland in Auckland on Sunday.

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