Rippon is closing in on a rare step in the box office race

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Otago all-rounder Michael Rippon is closing in on a rare step.

The 31-year-old left-arm wrist spinner needs four more wickets to bring 100 class-leading wickets for Otago.

It’s a reasonably populated club, but Rippon is also closing in on 2,000 runs for the province.

The South African-born player sits on 1,624 runs, so there’s still a lot of work to be done. But he posted consecutive half-centuries against Canterbury last week and is in fine form.

The career double of 100 wickets and 2,000 carries proved elusive for Otago players.

Gren Alabaster is the only player to take 200 wickets and score 2000 runs for the province. He is alone at the top of the tree with 205 wickets and 2340 runs.

Former Black Cap and Otago Cricket Association board member Nathan McCullum took 122 wickets and scored 2270 runs, while Otago manager of selectors Sam Wells scored 2588 runs and took 111 wickets during his playing days.

And that’s all. It’s the whole gang. Only three players have achieved the feat for Otago in 158 years.

Rippon is able to join them soon. He didn’t know how rare the feat was, but said it would be special to reach the milestone.

“It would mean a lot. I’m proud of my versatile skills,” he said.

“I just want to contribute as fully as I can with bat and ball. I hadn’t played a lot of top-class cricket before coming to Otago, so I kind of learned as I went.”

Rippon joined the Otago squad in January 2017, initially as a substitute player. But he impressed with the ball and was signed the following season.

He quickly signed a letter of intent to qualify for New Zealand and the former Netherlands international made his Black Caps debut in a T20 against Scotland in July. He didn’t knock but caught two for 37.

“I was called up in May, so I had quite a bit of time to prepare for it and the tour was fantastic.

“We played in three great countries, Scotland, Ireland and the Netherlands and it was a really welcoming environment. I felt like part of the team straight away.

“With this experience, I would obviously like to get involved a bit more. Hopefully I will have some more opportunities in the future.”

Rippon has been named to the Otago team that will host the Northern Districts in a Plunket Shield match at the University Ring starting today.

Josh Finnie was called up to the squad to replace fast bowler Michael Rae, who was ruled out with a calf injury.

The Volts started the season well with a great victory against Auckland. The Northern Districts escaped the stranglehold at Mount Maunganui but Canterbury proved too strong at Christchurch last week.

Rippon was the only Otago player to go over 50 and he found himself stuck on 72 steps into his second dig.

This score allowed him to exceed 2000 career first-class races.

He scored 352 goals in six games for the Dutch and also played for New Zealand A and Western Province at first class level.

Versatile leaders for Otago

Gren Alabaster: 205 weeks, 2340 races

Nathan McCullum: 122 weeks, 2270 races

Sam Wells: 111 weeks, 2588 races

Lead Shield

Otago vs. Northern Districts

Otago: Hamish Rutherford (captain), Jacob Cumming, Dale Phillips, Dean Foxcroft, Thorn Parkes, Max Chu, Michael Rippon, Travis Muller, Jake Gibson, Jacob Duffy, Jarrod McKay, Josh Finnie.

North districts: Jeet Raval, Henry Cooper, Bharat Popli, Joe Carter (captain), Tim Seifert, Tim Pringle, Scott Kuggeleijn, Kristian Clarke, Neil Wagner, Freddy Walker, Brett Hampton, Scott Johnston.

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