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Cricket: Ravindra And Pace Bowling Trio Earn First NZ Contract Offers

RNZ Sport

Rachin Ravindra's breakthrough season with the Black Caps has been recognised by his first New Zealand Cricket 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

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

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

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 2024-25 after reaffirming his commitment to the Black Caps for the coming home summer.

Veteran pace bowler 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 for the upcoming year.

Ravindra shines

Ravindra shone at last year's 50-over Cricket World Cup 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.

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He was named the ICC Emerging Player of the Year for 2023, and became the youngest recipient of the Sir Richard Hadlee Medal at the New Zealand Cricket Awards.

Ravindra said receiving his first Black Caps 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 Black Caps."

Sears featured in 11 T20 internationals during the 2023-24 season, claiming 13 wickets at an average of 22.

The 26-year-old made his test debut against Australia at Hagley Oval in March, claiming four for 90 in the second innings.

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 T20s 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 Black Caps 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 New Zealand in 14 T20s and six ODIs and was most recently involved in the drawn T20 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.

Black Caps selector Sam 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 Black Caps and we're pleased with the current depth," he said.

"The strength of the list is perhaps best measured by the quality of some of the players who weren't offered contracts."

Players offered Black Caps 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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