Ajaz Patel and Michael Bracewell obtained maiden New Zealand central contract
Michael Bracewell's rise in New Zealand cricket was confirmed on Friday when the Wellington all-rounder was offered his first domestic contract.
Left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel is poised to return to New Zealand's central-signed roster for the upcoming 2022-23 season, along with a first offer for all-rounder Michael Bracewell. James Neesham was dropped from the 20-player shortlist.
"Michael has been consistently performing at the home circuit for seasons and we certainly see him as an international talent in all three formats," head coach Gary Stead said in a statement.
Bracewell, the nephew of former internationals John and Brendon Bracewell, made his debut in the one-day series against the Netherlands in March and was included in the Test squad last week to play England in June.
Retired veteran Ross Taylor will be off the contract list for the first time since 2006.
Neesham has not played a Test since 2017, having played in just nine T20Is for New Zealand in the past 12 months, including the World Cup, where he hit 92 runs in seven innings with a batting average of 135.29 along with three wickets with one Economy of 8.20. Bracewell, who replaces Neesham, was recently included in the New Zealand Test squad for the England tour. He made his national debut in March against the Netherlands in a breakout season that also saw him win Super Smash Player of the Year.
Ajaz, meanwhile, finished the five-game T20I series in Bangladesh in September as top wicket-taker for both sides and helped New Zealand to a rare Test series win over England at Edgbaston in June. Perhaps his most memorable performance came against India in the second Test in Mumbai in December, when he won all 10 wickets of the first inning to finish the game on 14 overall.
Ajaz and Bracewell are therefore the only new faces on the national contract list, with players having until May 19 to accept or reject their offers under NZC's framework agreement with the New Zealand Cricket Players Association.
“The busy international calendar means we're drawing on a broader base of talent these days, and people like Michael Bracewell are a testament to the depth of that talent. Michael has been appearing consistently at the home circuit for seasons and we certainly see him having such an international perspective in all three formats.
"It's great to see Ajaz back on the list after narrowly missing last season. His worth as our lead red ball spinner is clear and we're excited to see what role he might play on the testing team going forward.
"I also want to recognize Ross Taylor and his immense contribution to the BLACKCAPS throughout a long and distinguished career," he added.
Players offered key 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.