Franklin loses New Zealand contract
Allrounder James Franklin is the surprise omission from New Zealand's list of contracted players for the next year. Since his return to the one-day side in December, Franklin has topped New Zealand's ODI batting averages with 325 runs at 54.16, but after a disappointing World Cup, he has been left out of the 20-man list.
Also gone from the list are Test fast bowler Brent Arnel, allrounder Grant Elliott, wicketkeeper Gareth Hopkins, Test opener Tim McIntosh, offspinner Jeetan Patel, fast bowler Daryl Tuffey, and retired batsman Scott Styris. The gloveman Reece Young, allrounders Rob Nicol and Luke Woodcock, and the fast bowler Trent Boult have all won contracts.
There was also a return for the batsmen Daniel Flynn and Neil Broom, who missed out last year having previously been on the list. But there was no such welcome back for Franklin, 30, who was in a similar position last year when he was cut from the contract list, and considered turning his back on New Zealand and using his Irish passport to become a local player in county cricket.
But the lure of the black cap was enough to keep Franklin pushing for national selection, and when he returned for the one-day series in India in December, he starred with 72 not out and 98 not out in his first matches back. Franklin was elevated to the contract list during the season and played for New Zealand in Test, ODI and Twenty20 cricket during the summer.
He also won a place at the World Cup, where his major impact was blasting most of the 31 runs New Zealand took off one over against Canada, the third-best over in ODI history. The acting national selection manager, Mark Greatbatch, said it was a difficult call to leave out experienced players like Franklin, but changes were needed after New Zealand won none of their five Tests and only eight of their 27 ODIs over the past 12 months.
"It was a tough year performance-wise," Greatbatch told ESPNcricinfo. "If we keep picking the same players, we're probably going to get the same results. It was a little bit of a cleanout. There have been some good players left out but they do have the opportunity in first-class cricket to press their claims. Some of these younger guys have caught up with some of the guys who have gone out, or gone past them, in our opinion.
"Some guys are playing shorter form only. In Franklin's case, he picked up points in the shorter forms but he only played one Test out of five last year. He'd like to get his bowling back to where it was four or five years ago in Test cricket. We don't feel that's there at the moment. We've picked a group of other players we feel can try and improve our Test cricket in the next two or three years.
"Young, Bennett and Woodcock started international cricket last season and made the most of their opportunities and are likely to feature prominently in the year ahead. Both Flynn and Broom have worked hard to develop their game after missing out on an NZC contract last year and their inclusion is a clear indication to all players that the door is never closed," Greatbatch said.
Under the new captain Ross Taylor, New Zealand head to Zimbabwe later this year for a Test series, before playing two Tests in Australia. They then head home to host Zimbabwe and South Africa, before a trip to the Caribbean next year.
New Zealand contracted players: Hamish Bennett, Trent Boult, Neil Broom, Daniel Flynn, Martin Guptill, Chris Martin, Brendon McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Andy McKay, Kyle Mills, Rob Nicol, Jacob Oram, Jesse Ryder, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Daniel Vettori, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson, Luke Woodcock, Reece Young.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo