Ten things you need to know about Otago Volts
Nobody calls them Otago Volts
It's just Otago - even ESPNcricinfo has acknowledged this in the tournament schedule. The electrically charged moniker is just a whiz-bang name that emerged when the marketing people got their hands on the NZ domestic one-day competition and zhuzhed it up back in the early noughties, when the State Shield emerged from the ashes of the Shell Cup. For the record, neither competition name was as good as the domestic competition's original name: The New Zealand Motor Corporation Knock-Out.
They have a doppelganger in their midst
Check out Sam Wells doing his Daniel Vettori impression last week here. Magnificent! Perhaps this is the beginning of an alternate career, a one-man Vettori tribute show. He just needs to undergo a metamorphosis and transform his right-arm seam into left-arm spin and ugly up his batting.
Otago supporters hate Kolkata Knight Riders
Every Otago supporter was stoked when KKR tanked in the 2013 edition of the Indian Premier League and failed to qualify for the Champions League. Why? Because it meant the Otago talisman, Brendon McCullum, could don the Otago colours. Any team with BB McCullum in it is a much more frightening proposition - not only for his brutal batting and aggressive captaincy but also for the halo effect on his team-mates.
Bad weather, no problem
Otago cricketers are from Otago and Southland which means they are both resilient and used to the weather buggering up their cricketing days out. To give you an idea, it rains in Dunedin once every three days and rarely breaches the 20 degrees Celsius mark.
Ryan ten Doeschate, cricket chameleon? Present
The South African-born Dutchman globetrots and plays for ten teams per annum. He's a wonderful addition to the Otago squad, making the cut after his Essex team went the way of KKR in the English county competitions. "Tendo" is like a stick insect in whatever team he fronts for: he chooses his colour then becomes a basher, a nurdler, or a skiddy paceman, depending on what the conditions dictate. Only Jesse Ryder scored more runs - shedloads more - in the NZ domestic T20 competition last season. Importantly too, ten Doeschate has been playing with Hamish Rutherford. Most memorably they smoked 230 runs from about 20 overs back in June for Essex.
Beige Brigade favourite Nathan McCullum's nickname is "mattress". And no one knows why.
On a roll
Otago have not lost a T20 match since Northern Districts tipped them up in November 2012 (thanks to a 116-run partnership between Poms Steven Croft and James Foster). Otago have racked up an impressive 13 wins and a rain-out along the way. Momentum is a wonderful thing in T20 cricket.
The sons of
Son of Rodney, Aaron Redmond, is in the squad as an old hand. So too is the son of Ken, woodchopper opening bat Hamish Rutherford. There's a Bracewell in there too, sticky-fingered Michael - son of former Otago player and current "network coach" Mark Bracewell.
Off the radar
At home in New Zealand, the Champions League Twenty20 is screening but the sporting news is being dominated by nail-biting patriotism as the America's Cup yachting floats to a crescendo (and rugby is in the news of course, but that is incessant). Being out of the spotlight, miles away, and playing cricket at times when most people are dribbling into their pillow has meant there is very little pressure being generated from our shores.
A bearded trainer
Everyone needs a good beard on their side and Adam Keen, the Otago trainer, ticks that box in a powerful follicle way. Along with former New Zealand sprinter Chris Donaldson, he has the Otago lads in great shape despite the last days of the domestic cricket season being many moons behind the squad.
Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. He tweets here