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Cumming awarded New Zealand contract

New Zealand have awarded Craig Cumming a contract for the 2007-08 season. The board made the offer to Cumming, the Otago batsman, following Craig McMillan's retirement from all cricket two weeks ago for health and personal reasons.

Cumming, 32, was a close contender when the 20 contracts were handed out in May, so New Zealand's general manager, Lindsay Crocker, was pleased to offer him this deal, saying: "We are delighted to be able to include him at this time."

There were also rumours that he might have been in line for a contract in July, when Hamish Marshall gave up his deal to concentrate on county cricket. Mathew Sinclair got the nod then, although The Dominion Post, a New Zealand newspaper, speculated at the time that Cumming or Daryl Tuffey may have been the selectors' first choice but the Players' Association may have stepped in to veto the move.

Either way, Cumming has his chance now and he has accepted the deal, thought to be worth around NZ $45,000 a year.

He has played seven Tests and seven ODIs to date and is currently on tour in South Africa with New Zealand where he scored a fifty in the opening practice match, and was the only member of the touring party without a contract. He has made 5694 first-class runs at an average of 34.30 since his debut for Canterbury in 1996.