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Curtis Heaphy Awarded First Full-season Central Stags Contract

Nineteen-year-old Manawatū batsman Curtis Heaphy can breathe easy in more ways than one after the 16th Central Stags contract spot for the coming season was announced today.

Having recovered from a post-season operation to straighten his septum — the legacy of a broken nose in schoolboy rugby days, the top order batsman has earned the last available professional contract spot with the national one-day and first-class champions.

It’s not the first time Heaphy has been contracted professionally by the team, but it’s the first time he'll be contracted right from the outset of the annual contractual period that runs from September to April. Last summer, he had received his maiden contract part-way through, elevated to the 16-strong professional group as a replacement contract for Blair Tickner who had been promoted to the BLACKCAPS’ NZC-contracted group.

Heaphy’s inclusion brings the number of first-time full Central Stags contracts to three for the coming season, joining 21-year-old allrounder Will Clark and former Cantabrian turned Stag Jack Boyle who were among the 15 players named in the first round of annual contracts on 4 July.

A right-handed batsman of style and promise, Heaphy debuted for the Stags last summer in the first-class Plunket Shield. He hit the ground running, scoring two half centuries in five matches including a high score of 80 on debut at Saxton Oval, and 56 at the same ground in the final match of the season to help secure the national championship for the Stags.

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He and Clark also featured in a number of NZC New Zealand Development XI matches over the past two seasons, having missed out on New Zealand Under 19 and Under 19 World Cup selection opportunities due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Manawatū and Cook Islands keeper-batsman Ma’ara Ave and Whanganui veteran top order batsman Ben Smith have not gained a contract this time around. Wairarapa swing bowler Seth Rance is also missing from the 2023/24 contracted group as he rehabilitates from major shoulder surgery, with his availability pegged as January 2024 at the earliest.

Players who miss out on full-season contracts remain available for selection, and are remunerated on a match-by-match basis. Central Districts Manager, High Performance Dave Meiring said it will inevitably be disappointing for those players who have missed out, but the strong competition for roster spots is a reflection of the depth of talent in the CD region.

“With Ajaz Patel having rejoined the Stags’ contract roster [after missing out on a BLACKCAPS contract], we had one fewer spot available. As always, difficult decisions had to be weighed up as we narrowed it down to the last spots on our list.

“We’re investing in some exciting young players, and believe that both Will and Curtis have the ability to play all three formats of the game. They took their opportunities last summer to impress, and can make a real impact for the team as their careers continue to develop.

“It’s certainly our hope that the likes of Ben and Ma’ara still have the burning desire to play for CD and the door remains open to selection, as members of our wider training squad.”

Meiring’s attention now turns to formalising the new season’s Central Hinds contract offers, while the Domestic playing schedules for 2023/24 will be released in the coming weeks.

Season 2023/24 • Professional Roster

JACK BOYLE**HAWKE'S BAYRIGHT-HAND BATSMAN
DOUG BRACEWELLHAWKE'S BAYRIGHT-ARM PACE ALLROUNDER
TOM BRUCETARANAKIRIGHT-HAND BATSMAN, RIGHT ARM OFF-SPIN
WILL CLARK*HAWKE'S BAYRIGHT-ARM PACE ALLROUNDER
JOSH CLARKSONNELSONRIGHT-ARM PACE ALLROUNDER
DANE CLEAVERMANAWATUWICKETKEEPER, RIGHT-HAND BATSMAN
LIAM DUDDINGHAWKE'S BAYRIGHT-ARM PACE BOWLER
JOEY FIELDHAWKE'S BAYRIGHT-ARM ALLROUNDER
GREG HAYNELSONRIGHT-HAND BATSMAN
CURTIS HEAPHY*MANAWATURIGHT-HAND BATSMAN
JAYDEN LENNOXHAWKE'S BAYLEFT-ARM OFF SPIN
AJAZ PATELHAWKE'S BAYLEFT-ARM OFF-SPIN
BRETT RANDELL-RIGHT-ARM PACE ALLROUNDER
BRAD SCHMULIANHAWKE'S BAYRIGHT-HAND BATSMAN, RIGHT ARM LEG-SPIN
RAY TOOLEMANAWATULEFT-ARM PACE BOWLER
BAYLEY WIGGINSHAWKE'S BAYWICKETKEEPER, RIGHT-HAND BATSMAN

* first full-season professional contract

** first Central Stags professional contract

Season 2023/24 • BLACKCAP Contracts

NZC-contracted players who also play for the Central Stags when available

BLAIR TICKNERHAWKE'S BAYRIGHT-ARM PACE BOWLER
WILL YOUNGTARANAKIRIGHT-HAND BATSMAN

HOW IT WORKS

Each year, all six Major Associations (NZC-affiliated associations that play first-class cricket) announce their contracted men’s squad in a two-step process, as defined by a pre-existing Master Agreement between NZC, NZCPA and the six Major Associations. Sixteen players per Major Association receive a Domestic contract for the forthcoming season. No fewer than 10, and up to 15, of these players are named per team in the first round (first round list was announced on 4 July). This is followed by a Transfer Window open to uncontracted players, then Major Associations finalise and announce their remaining player contracts on 20 July — bringing the number of contracted male players for each team to 16. Uncontracted players remain eligible to play for their team when selected.

© Scoop Media

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