Kane Williamson gets central contract
Kane Williamson, the 19-year old Northern Districts batsman, is one of four new faces on New Zealand's 20-member contracts list for the next year. The other three are offspinner Nathan McCullum, fast bowler Andy McKay and wicketkeeper-batsman BJ Watling. Allrounder Scott Styris has returned to New Zealand Cricket's elite group after missing out on a contract last year.
The players who drop out of the contract pool are retired fast bowler Iain O'Brien, batsmen Neil Broom and Daniel Flynn, and the fast bowling pair of Ian Butler and James Franklin.
Williamson's outstanding domestic form over the past season has led to call-ups to both the Test and one-day squads though he is yet to make his international debut. "Kane Williamson is a young player whose pedigree is impeccable in terms of cricket development," New Zealand coach Mark Greatbatch said. "We are now confident that he can step into the international arena and further advance his game."
The other newcomers have already had a taste of international cricket. McKay impressed captain Daniel Vettori with his pace, McCullum was one of New Zealand's stand-out performers at this year's World Twenty20 and Watling has shown that he can provide much-needed solidity to the fragile Test top-order.
Greatbatch also defended handing Chris Martin a contract despite a poor couple of Tests against Australia earlier this year. The retirement on Shane Bond and O'Brien has increased the responsibility on Martin, who took only one wicket for 260 runs in the home series against Australia in March.
"We think it is very easy to look in isolation at one or two Test matches at the end of summer, when he himself said those performances weren't at the level he wanted to aspire to," Greatbatch told NZPA. "We still feel that he is going to help us in test cricket for the next 12 months."
NZC and the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association are still negotiating the terms for central contracts to be awarded and have put in place a temporary arrangement till the new terms are agreed on or till the end of August, whichever comes first.
The list of players who receive a contract is determined by a ranking system with criteria set by the national selectors. There is a weighting for each form of the game and the 20 players with the highest aggregate score are offered NZC contracts.