Test hero Ajaz Patel returns to Black Caps contract list

Central Stags spinner Ajaz Patel is set to return to the Black Caps contracts list for the coming season, alongside Wellington all-rounder Michael Bracewell who will receive an offer for the first time.

Ajaz Patel is congratulated
Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The pair are the only new faces on the 20-strong national contract list, with the players having until May 19 to accept or decline their offers as per NZC’s Master Agreement with the New Zealand Cricket Players Association.

Patel starred in Test cricket for the Black Caps in 2021 and showcased his T20 skills in September when he finished as the top wicket-taker for either side in the five-game T20 series in Bangladesh.

The left-arm spinner helped clinch a rare Test series victory over England at Edgbaston in June, before his now famous exploits against India in the second Test in Mumbai in December, when he claimed all 10 first-innings wickets and finished with 14 for the match.

Michael Bracewell made his ODI debut against the Netherlands in March as part of a break-out season which featured his maiden international call-ups in all three formats and included being crowned the men’s Dream11 Super Smash Player of the Year.

Retired great Ross Taylor will not appear on the contract list for the first time since 2006, while Jimmy Neesham has not been offered a New Zealand contract for the first time since returning to the list in 2019.

Black Caps coach Gary Stead said competition for the 20 contracts continued to be fierce.

“Finalising the list seems to get tougher by the year,” Stead reflected.

“The busy international calendar means we’re calling on a wider base of talent these days and the likes of Michael Bracewell is testament to the depth of that talent.

Michael Bracewell of the Blackcaps during the First One Day International match against Netherlands, 2022.

Michael Bracewell
Photo: PHOTOSPORT

“Michael’s been consistently performing on the domestic circuit for seasons now and we certainly see him as an international prospect in all three formats.

“It’s great to see Ajaz back on the list after narrowly missing out last season. His value as our leading red-ball spinner is clear and we’re excited to see the role he could play in the Test team going forward.

“I’d like to congratulate all 20 players who have received a national contract offer for the coming season and wish those heading away this winter all the best.

“I’d also like to acknowledge Ross Taylor and his immense contribution to the Black Caps over a long and successful career.”

In compiling the list of offers, an NZC contract review group, managed by GM High Performance Bryan Stronach, considered likely playing values over the next twelve months, calculating in past performances, playing history, the upcoming playing schedule, and likelihood of players being involved during that period.

New Zealand play a test series against England next month as well as limited overs games against Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands before the T20 World Cup in Australia.

The Black Caps are scheduled to play Pakistan, Sri Lanka, West Indies, India and Afghanistan next summer.

Players offered central contracts for 2022-23: Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young.

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