Totteridge Millhillians have pulled off a coup with the signing of Auckland Aces star William O’Donnell for their 2023 Hertfordshire Cricket League campaign.
O’Donnell is a young batting all-rounder who seems destined for the big time, following a quite sensational 2020/21 domestic season for the Auckland Aces.
The powerful opening batter finished top of the Ford Trophy (List A) run charts, hitting a century (106), and 6 fifties amongst 537 runs at 53.70. The trend continued in the Super Smash (T20), finishing as the Aces second-leading run-scorer with 212 runs at 35.33. And, if his white-ball form wasn’t enough, he replicated this, and then some, in the Plunket Shield, hitting centuries in each innings against Wellington, on his way to 375 runs at 75.
However, it was the way he went about his work, across all formats, that really impressed. He showed an innate ability to adapt to any situation. His 4-hour plus, and 200-ball, vigil against a Knights attack featuring Wagner, Sodhi, and Kuggeleijn to help the Aces save the game (finishing 51 not out), and his centuries in each innings (117, and 137*) against the Firebirds, highlighted his ability to bat time.
To counter that, he produced some explosive innings in white-ball cricket to evidence his power. Scores of 50 (44), 40 (30), and 38 (24) in 3 of his last 4 Super Smash matches, sandwiched between 6 fifties (including a 59-ball 79), and his maiden hundred (106 from 120 balls) in the Ford Trophy.
Roll on the 2021/22 season and his run-scoring trend continued hitting a further century (119*) amongst 335 runs at 41.87 in the Plunket Shield. Surprisingly, though, despite his success the previous summer he didn’t feature in the Ford Trophy and only played 2 Super Smash games throughout the campaign.
Nevertheless, it’s no wonder O’Donnell has been earmarked for higher honours. However, it’s also clear Blackcaps’ selectors have an eye for young talent, given O’Donnell had already earned New Zealand XI selection back in December 2018 against the touring Sri Lankans. His most reason season will ensure he’s very much in their thoughts moving forward.
It’s no surprise to hear cricket is O’Donnell’s blood. His father is former Aces coach, Mark O’Donnell, whilst his brother Rob is the current Auckland skipper.
He was rewarded with his Aces debut courtesy of his run and wicket-taking exploits for Takapuna in the Auckland Premier Men’s Competition. Since the 2015/16 season, O’Donnell has racked up over 3,000 runs averaging in the mid-40s, alongside 50 plus wickets at 25 (in One and Two-Day cricket). He has struck 10 centuries, including a double (230*) during the 2018/19 season.
O’Donnell has unsurprisingly also excelled abroad. Following several stints with Norwich (2016-18 – 3,121 runs at 51.16 and 98 wickets at 22.06), he moved south to Sussex in 2021 where he enjoyed another barnstorming season racking up 1,106 runs at 69.13 and 34 wickets at 20.59 for Three Bridges in the Premier League. He returned in 2022, and after visa delays that jeopardised half the season, he made up for lost time with a further 588 runs at 49 and 19 wickets at 29.16.
The all-rounder really is quite the talent and following his current domestic season will return to Northern shores having signed with Totteridge Millhillians for their 2023 Hertfordshire Cricket League campaign.