Tuesday, July 16, 2024

NZC: Ravindra and pace bowling trio earn first contract offers | Patel returns

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Photo Credit: BCCI

Rachin Ravindra’s breakthrough season with the BLACKCAPS has been recognised by his first International Playing Contract offer, for the 2024-25 year.

The Wellington all-rounder will be joined, should they accept their offers, by team-mate Ben Sears, Canterbury’s Will O’Rourke and Otago’s Jacob Duffy as new faces on a proposed, 20-strong annual International Playing Contract list

Ajaz Patel is also set to return, after missing out during the previous cycle.

Ravindra shone at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 in India, finishing as the competition’s fourth leading run-scorer with 578 runs, before returning home to star in the Test and T20I summer.

His rise was rewarded in January when he was named the ICC Emerging Player of the Year for 2023, and in March when he became the youngest recipient of the Sir Richard Hadlee Medal at the ANZ New Zealand Cricket Awards.

Ravindra said receiving his first BLACKCAPS contract offer was special. 

“Growing up you’d see those contract lists come out each year and think it would be cool to be on that list one day – and for it to eventuate now is a pinch-myself moment,” he said.

“It’s been a really cool past 12 months playing international cricket. I’ve learned a lot and the hunger is definitely there to keep improving and giving to the BLACKCAPS.

“It’s such a special group to be in, from players to support staff – and that’s been the most enjoyable part, to be honest.

“Playing a game you love with your mates for a living is something very special, and I hold it close to my heart.”

Sears, who played alongside Ravindra at the 2016 ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup, featured in 11 T20Is for the BLACKCAPS during the 2023-24 season, claiming 13 wickets at an average of 22.

He made his Test debut against Australia at Hagley Oval in March, claiming four for 90 in the second innings.

The 26-year-old pace-bowler was also included as a travelling reserve in the BLACKCAPS squad for the ICC T20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA.

O’Rourke’s contract offer caps off a 12-month period for the Canterbury seamer in which he made his international debut in all three formats.

The 22-year-old featured in three ODIs, three T20Is and two Tests, the first of which saw him claim New Zealand’s best Test match-figures on debut with nine for 93, helping the BLACKCAPS claim their first ever Test series victory against South Africa.

Duffy receives his first International Playing Contract offer 12 years on from his professional debut for the Otago Volts as a 17-year-old.

The 29-year-old, who recently surpassed Stephen Boock as Otago’s all-time leading wicket-taker, has featured for the BLACKCAPS in 14 T20Is and six ODIs and was most recently involved in the drawn T20I series against Pakistan in April.

Patel, contracted previously in the 2020-21 and 2022-23 seasons, receives his offer ahead of a busy red ball schedule, including upcoming overseas Tests against Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, and India, and a three match home series against England.

BLACKCAPS selector Sam Wells congratulated the 20 players offered central contracts for the coming season.

“It’s especially exciting for Ben, Jacob, Rachin and Will to receive their first contract offers, and well deserved following their hard work and performances,” said Wells.

“These younger guys are the future of the team and it’s been encouraging to see their progress on the international stage.”

Wells acknowledged the cricket landscape was evolving quickly but said the performance of, and the demand for New Zealand players around the world, suggested much of the system was working.

“We’re producing international-ready BLACKCAPS and we’re pleased with the current depth.

“The strength of the list is perhaps best measured by the quality of some of the players who weren’t offered contracts.”

Of the players contracted in the previous year, Kane Williamson, Lockie Ferguson and Adam Milne made themselves unavailable for a contract for the coming season.

NZC reiterated its stance that players offered NZC central contracts must commit to being available for both the BLACKCAPS and the domestic Dream11 Super Smash competition.

Williamson has been offered a ‘casual playing contract’ by NZC for the 2024-25 season after reaffirming his commitment to the BLACKCAPS for the coming home summer, in which he is set to feature outside the January window.

Neil Wagner will not appear on the central contract list for the first time since 2013 after retiring from international cricket in February, while Central Stags bowler Blair Tickner has not been offered a central contract offer for the upcoming year.

Players offered BLACKCAPS central contracts for 2024-25

Finn Allen (Auckland), Tom Blundell (Wellington), Michael Bracewell (Wellington), Mark Chapman (Auckland), Devon Conway (Wellington), Jacob Duffy (Otago), Matt Henry (Canterbury), Kyle Jamieson (Canterbury), Tom Latham (Canterbury), Daryl Mitchell (Canterbury), Henry Nicholls (Canterbury), Will O’Rourke (Canterbury), Ajaz Patel (Central Districts), Glenn Phillips (Otago), Rachin Ravindra (Wellington), Mitchell Santner (Northern Districts), Ben Sears (Wellington), Ish Sodhi (Canterbury), Tim Southee (Northern Districts), Will Young (Central Districts)

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