Chris Woakes, the Warwickshire allrounder, has signed for Wellington to play New Zealand domestic cricket between November and January and is hoping to use it as an opportunity to stake his claim for a place on the England tour to the country next year.
Woakes was not included in either the Test or the performance squad for the trips to India before Christmas. He featured in a number of one-day squads during the English season although only played two ODIs and one of those, at Cardiff against South Africa, was virtually a washout. In his other appearance, at Trent Bridge, he took 0 for 35 in six overs although did score an unbeaten 33.
However, his form for Warwickshire throughout the season was outstanding. In the Championship he took 27 wickets at 25.22 and scored 431 runs at 71.83 as part of the title winning side. He also almost guided the county to the CB40 title at Lord's but was left stranded on 24 against Hampshire.
Woakes is set to play three first-class matches in the Plunket Shield and eight matches in New Zealand's domestic Twenty20 tournament, the HRV Cup. The deal will see him link up with Jeetan Patel, the New Zealand offspinner, who was Warwickshire's overseas player in 2012.
"Joining Wellington as the club's overseas player is a great opportunity for me, and I'm really looking forward to joining up with Jeets and the rest of the Firebirds squad," Woakes said. "With James Franklin and Jesse Ryder also in the team I'm sure it's one that can challenge for honours.
"With England starting a full tour of New Zealand in February next year, it's also a really good chance for me to make a big impression and hopefully the selectors will be following my progress and seeing what I can do in these conditions."
Woakes is the fourth English player to sign for a New Zealand side in recent weeks after James Foster and Steven Croft joined Northern Knights for the HRV Cup. Somerset's Peter Trego had signed for Central Districts. The country has been a popular destination in the past, too, with Andrew Strauss spending time there when he was dropped by England in 2007 and Steven Finn playing for Otago last year.