New Zealand domestic cricket July 18, 2009

Wellington excited by new talent

Cricinfo staff

Wellington coach Anthony Stuart has expressed satisfaction at three new acquisitions for the upcoming domestic season. The side drafted in left-arm fast bowler Andy McKay from Auckland, opener Cameron Merchant from Northern Districts and Central Districts legspinner Robbie Schaw.

Though none of the three have excellent first-class records, Stuart said they brought certain qualities to the side, which released spinner Mark Houghton and fast bowlers Michael Burns and Kevin Forde.

McKay, 29, has 54 wickets from 19 matches and little limited-overs experience but Stuart said he was a value addition. "We need some penetration in our attack and Andy will hopefully give us that," he told the Dominion Post. "He bowls at a lively pace, hits the bat hard and bowls with a nice upright action."

The 25-year-old Merchant, who has represented New South Wales second XI and Queensland Under-17, has made 394 runs in eight matches at 28.14. "Cameron is a good player with an average record. I've known him for three or four years and a lot of guys in Sydney speak highly of him so there is no doubt if he can get his head down he can do well," said Stuart, the former bowler who played three one-day internationals for Australia. "He is a pretty positive batsman."

Schaw was preferred to Houghton as Auckland's third spinner behind Jeetan Patel and Luke Woodcock. In 14 first-class games he has taken 26 wickets at 56.42 and Stuart was hopeful he would fit right in to the line-up. "Robbie gives us some variation and I think he will thrive on the concentrated training environment we have,"he said. "He's bowled well against us in the past, he's a young guy and being a wrist spinner his best years are ahead of him."

Houghton, despite a good outing in the State Twenty20, was dropped as the side looked for a bowler more suited to the four-day game. "I've had a couple of chats with Mark and he is disappointed with our decision but he has vowed to bounce back," said Stuart. "Michael Burns bowled some good spells last year and can count himself unlucky as well but at the end of the day you can only pick 12."

Last season, Wellington finished third in the four-day and one-day competitions and failed to make the finals of the Twenty20 competition.