James Neesham, the New Zealand allrounder, has signed up with Wellington for the upcoming domestic season, ending a seven-year tenure with Otago. The 27-year-old is seeking a return to the national side after he was one of the notable omissions from the annual contracted players' list announced by New Zealand Cricket earlier this month.
Neesham said his relationship with the Wellington coach Bruce Edgar convinced him to make the move. "Me and Bruce always had a good relationship from back when he was a national selector," he told stuff.co.nz. "When he knew I was looking at other opportunities, he had a good chat with me about Wellington. I liked the look of the set up and I flew down to meet a few of the lads, and it seems like it will be a great fit for me. I'm 27, I'm reaching the time when an all-rounder comes into his peak. This is a good chance to show it."
Auckland was the other team Neesham was looking at. However, his equation with Edgar, as well as a proud record at the Basin Reserve, eventually influenced his decision. Neesham has played six first-class matches at the venue and averages 42.72 with the bat. He also struck a career-best 137 not out against India in February 2014, in the same Test where Brendon McCullum became New Zealand's first Test triple-centurion.
"Jimmy is a quality player who will add a lot to our middle order with the bat and complement a pace attack who have done pretty well in recent seasons," Cricket Wellington said in a statement. "We think that will make him an asset to our squad and he's been very clear that a return to the national side is part of his focus and a strong incentive to contribute to the Firebirds this coming summer."
Neesham made his international debut in December 2012, in a T20 international against South Africa in Durban. He has since played 12 Tests, 41 ODIs and 15 T20Is. However, the previous season was marked by a dip in form, particularly with the ball, leading to his falling out of favour with the selectors.