Rachin, Sears, O'Rourke, Duffy get New Zealand cricket central contracts

Christchurch, July 10 (IANS) Rachin Ravindra, Ben Sears, Will O’Rourke and Jacob Duffy have been offered their first New Zealand central contracts for the 2024-25 year with left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel returning to the list.

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.

“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. 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,” said Ravindra.

“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,” he added.

Left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel added to the 20-player contract list after missing out during the previous cycle.

Patel, contracted previously in the 2020-21 and 2022-23 seasons, received 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.

Rachin will be joined by team-mate Ben Sears, Will O’Rourke and Otago’s Jacob Duffy, should they accept their offers, as new faces on a proposed annual International Playing Contract list.

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 New Zealand squad for the ICC T20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA.

Meanwhile, O’Rourke’s contract offer came after a 12-month period in which he made his international debut in all three formats.

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.

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 central contracts for 2024-25: Finn Allen, Tom Blundell, Michael Bracewell, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Will O’Rourke, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ben Sears, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young



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