November 26, 2002

Chosen 20 lead New Zealand into new era

The preferred 20 players who have been offered contracts by New Zealand Cricket have been named today with no significant surprises.

The contracting process is an innovation that has grown out of the players' association seeking a change in the administration of player salaries.

Selection of the players concerned is made by New Zealand Cricket's selection panel of Sir Richard Hadlee, Denis Aberhart, Ross Dykes and Brian McKechnie.

NZC chief executive Martin Snedden said the Australian model had been applied to the New Zealand process, and the decision of who should receive the contracts was based on performances in the 12 months preceding June 1, an assessment of a player's likely value to NZC or to that player's Major Association in the following 12 months.

It is intended to adopt the points system which has been used in Australian cricket for the last five years. The following is a brief explanation of that points system, as it will apply in NZ.

Snedden commented: "The NZC selectors will rank the top 25 cricketers in NZ for the purposes of one-day cricket.

"The top-ranked player will receive 25 points, the second ranked player will receive 24 points, and so on down to the 25th ranked player who will receive 1 point.

"The NZC selectors, again using the criteria specified above, will then rank the top 25 players for Test cricket purposes.

"Again, to begin with, the top ranked Test player will receive 25 points, the second ranked player will receive 24 points, and so on down to the 25th ranked Test player who will receive 1 point.

"As it done in Australia, the Test-ranked players will then receive extra weighting. The points received by the Test-ranked players will be multiplied by 1.25.

"Once the above exercises have been completed, the selectors will simply merge the two lists together and the top 20 players will be ranked on the basis of their individual combined points score and those will be the 20 players offered contracts by NZC.

"The same process will be followed at domestic level (to a limit of 18 players) with the result that the top 11 ranked players will be offered contracts by their respective MA."

The rankings will not be divulged at the request of the players. This is despite the fact the Australian Cricket Board announced the fast-medium bowler Glenn McGrath, Steve Waugh, Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting were their top-ranked players.

One of the surprises in the New Zealand list is the awarding of a contract to one-day specialist Paul Hitchcock. He clearly has the weight of expectation on his shoulders having played only one first-class game in his career, and making his international debut on the tour of the West Indies.

The players named are:

Andre Adams:

Tests: 1. 18 runs @ 9.00. Highest score 11. 6 wickets @ 17.50. Best bowling 3-44.
ODIs: 16. 205 runs @ 22.77 (Strike rate 99.51). 18 wickets @ 34.05. BB 3-13 (Economy rate 4.93).

Clearly, a player of whom much is expected in limited overs cricket especially. A hard-hitting all-rounder, he bowls at a good pace and appeals for his combative nature.

Nathan Astle:

Tests: 55. 3365 runs @ 38.67. HS 222. 35 wkts @ 48.11. BB 2-22.
ODIs: 162. 5204 runs @ 34.46. HS 122* (SR 72.49). 91 wkts @3 6.47. BB 4-43 (Econ 4.64).

Verging on a world-ranked batsman in both forms of the game, Astle has developed a fine home record, and started to make significant progress on last year's tour of Australia. Is a key hope at the World Cup but has to start scoring runs at crucial times overseas.

Shane Bond:

Tests: 6. 40 runs @ 10.00. HS 17. 26 wkts @ 25.19. BB 5-78.
ODIs: 15. 86 runs @ 17.20. HS 26 (SR 85.14). 29 wkts @ 19.68. BB 5-25 (Econ 4.66).

No surprises that Bond is named, and nor would it surprise that he is in the top-ranked slot because he offers genuine speed, something that New Zealand has all too rarely been able to utilise. Faces a big summer against the daunting Indian attack, and then performing in the rarified air of South Africa at the World Cup.

Ian Butler:

Tests: 4. 50 runs @ 10.00. HS 26. 14 wkts @ 32.50. BB 4-60.
ODIs: 9. 6 runs @ 3.00. HS 3 (SR 20.68). 6 wkts @ 54.6. BB 2-32 (Econ 5.80).

It has been quite a phenomenal 12 months for Butler and he now faces a genuine test to build on his exposure to international cricket and to give Bond the sort of support he deserves.

Chris Cairns:

Tests: 55. 2853 runs @ 32.79. HS 126. 197 wkts @ 28.80. BB 7-27.
ODIs: 151. 3614 runs @ 29.14. HS 115 (SR 81.54) 154 wkts @ 31.90. BB 5-42 (Econ 4.69).

Just having Cairns back in action should be a huge fillip to both his team and to the public. He is verging on senior statesman status in the side now with the maturity and skill to make the most of all situations in the game. A big year would be good news all-round, if you'll pardon the pun.

Stephen Fleming:

Tests: 71. 4217 runs @ 36.35. HS 174*.
ODIs: 182. 4924 runs @ 30.77 (SR 69.67).

Now that Fleming has the Test captaincy firmly under control, with an increasingly impressive portfolio of victories, it is time to address the one-day results which have been less than encouraging in the past 12 months, this despite reaching the VB Series finals. Reaching finals is one thing, winning them is another. Has done it once in Kenya, what better season to advance that record than this year.

Chris Harris:

Tests: 23. 777 runs @ 20.44. HS 71. 16 wkts @ 73.12. BB 2-16.
ODIs: 216. 3955 runs @ 30.42. HS 130 (SR 67.41). 192 wkts @ 36.43 (Econ 4.31).

The grand old man of the one-day game, although he won't appreciate that. But with 216 games for the country there is no substitute for experience and his sweeping of the last 15 overs in ODIs is among the best in the game. Still one of our finest fielders who could be a key man in South Africa.

Robbie Hart:

Tests: 3. 133 runs @ 33.25. HS 57*. 5 catches, 1 stumping.
ODIs: 2. O runs. 1 catch.

A player reborn since the retirement of Adam Parore, Hart showed a wonderfully competitive attitude in the West Indies last summer. This could be a significant year for him in advancing his Test spot.

Paul Hitchcock:

ODIs: 6. 9 runs @ 9.0. (SR 75.00). 6 wkts @ 26.33 (Econ 4.27).

Has been the big mover on the cricket scene over the past 12 months. New Zealand desperately needs an at-the-death bowler and there will be no better chance than to prove his worthiness for the World Cup than against the Indian threshing machine in a few weeks time.

Matt Horne:

Tests: 33. 1714 @ 29.05. HS 157.

Still appeals as the most likely partner at the top of the Test batting order with provincial team-mate Mark Richardson. Plenty of runs left in him yet.

Craig McMillan:

Tests: 42. 2588 runs @ 41.07. HS 142. 27 wkts @ 43.48. BB 3-48.
ODIs: 120. 2933 runs @ 27.15 (SR 72.58). 37 wkts @ 32.89. BB 3-20 (Econ 5.32).

A quiet summer last year, by his own standards, could be the forerunner of a big year this time around. At his best, McMillan is a punchy batsman who knows no fear. He has a key role to play in both forms of the game.

Chris Martin:

Tests: 11. 34 wkts @ 34.58. BB 5-71.

Martin has been the Mr Fixit for the New Zealand bowling attack in recent times. His prospects are likely to continue in that role and it will be important that he is ready when called.

Chris Nevin:

ODIs: 27. 607 runs @ 23.34. HS 74 (SR 79.45). 14 catches, 3 stumpings.

Nevin must still have the front-running for the job of wicket-keeper in the one-day side but there is clear evidence that the forces are gathering in the shape of Brendon McCullum while Lou Vincent always offers an alternative. Needs a big Indian series for his own confidence if nothing else.

Jacob Oram:

ODIs: 25. 336 runs @ 15.27 (SR 81.35). 18 wkts @ 39.50 (Econ 5.04).

Lost some valuable time that would have helped his World Cup preparation due to injury last summer, but with his all-round skills, hard hitting and accurate bowling, Oram would be a handy player in any captain's repertoire.

Mark Richardson:

Tests: 20. 1507 runs @ 47.09. HS 143.
ODIs: 4. 42 runs @ 10.50. HS 26 (SR 43.29).

Now that he can afford to specialise in his Test batting, there may be even greater things ahead for the already impressive Richardson. With only two home Tests this summer, the Auckland record books in four-day matches could be in for a hammering.

Mathew Sinclair:

Tests: 18. 1079 runs @ 43.16. HS 214.
ODIs: 25. 660 runs @ 27.50. HS 118* (SR 60.82).

Sinclair could do with a really impressive haul of runs this summer. Clearly a player with the temperament to take apart good attacks, he would be an invaluable player in both Tests and one-dayers for the side.

Scott Styris:

Tests: 1. 176 runs @ 176.00. HS 107. 2 wkts @ 44.00. BB 2-88.
ODIs: 47. 620 runs @ 19.37. HS 85. 45 wkts @ 36.40. BB 6-25 (Econ 5.08).

With his Test century on debut against the West Indies, Styris opened up a huge door of opportunity for his career. No longer a player who can be regarded as a one-day specialist he offers yet another alternative to the selectors when they ponder their Test match variations.

Daryl Tuffey:

Tests: 10. 32 wkts @ 32.25. BB 6-54.
ODIs: 37. 40 wkts @ 31.67. BB 4-24 (Econ 4.88).

Last summer's comeback victory over England was an important statement by Tuffey about his desire to play at the top international level. His ability to put strength into his bowling makes him an enduring type of player of who there are too few in New Zealand at the moment. A solid workhorse with oodles of potential.

Daniel Vettori:

Tests: 42. 851 runs @ 16.36. HS 90. 139 wkts @ 33.86. BB 7-87.
ODIs: 93. 467 runs @ 10.61. HS 30 (SR 74.72). 79 wkts @ 39.74. BB 4-24 (Econ 4.47).

All the signs point to Vettori being back to his best with an invigorating quality that marks him as a player to be respected by the world's best batsmen. His presence will increase New Zealand's competitiveness significantly. And that's not to forget his batting.

Lou Vincent:

Tests: 9. 513 runs at 32.06. HS 104.
ODIs: 42. 876 runs @ 23.67. HS 60* (SR 60.53).

Vincent grasped all the strands of opportunity he could last season. Still appeals most as a batsman/fielder on the one-day scene, although his average needs some serious attention. And in Test match play his goal must be for much greater consistency.