New Zealand have announced winter contracts for the first time with seven players, including Grant Elliott, on the list. The deals run from May to September and cover the Emerging Players Tournament in Queensland in July and the New Zealand A tour of India in September.
"All players contracted will be under consideration for winter tours by the New Zealand A or Emerging Players Tournament sides, or even the Blackcaps," a New Zealand spokesman confirmed to Cricinfo.
"These contracts have been awarded in recognition of their performance in the last domestic season," Glenn Turner, one of New Zealand's selectors, said. "We have identified them as possible future Blackcaps, or as players who we expect to build on existing international experience. There is an expectation that they will keep working on their game during the winter."
The allrounder Elliott, 29, made his Test debut against England last month but was overlooked for a full contract two weeks ago. However, the winter deal gives him hope his international career will not stall at one match.
Nathan McCullum is one step closer to joining his brother Brendon in the national set-up again after receiving one of the seven contracts. His only match in New Zealand colours came at the World Twenty20 last year, when he made 1 and was not required to bowl against South Africa.
Neil Broom, Martin Guptill, Greg Hay, Bradley Scott and BJ Watling were also included in the list. McCullum, Broom and Scott have played together for New Zealand A in 2007, the trio appearing in the Emerging Players Tournament final in Australia where they lost to South Africa.
Guptill, 21, is a former New Zealand Under-19 player who made his first-class debut two years ago while Watling, 22, played his initial first-class match in the 2004-05 season. The deals begin on May 19 and continue until the end of September, before the resumption of major association contracts.