New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has dropped James Neesham from central contract list for the upcoming 2022-23 season, while the board gives Michael Bracewell his maiden offer. Moreover, Ajaz Patel, who took a ten-wicket haul against India later last year, was included in the 20-member shortlist as well.
James Neesham, one of New Zealand's star all-rounders in the last few years, has lost his New Zealand contract for the upcoming 2022-23 season. Instead, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) has given Michael Bracewell, the 31-year-old all-rounder, a maiden offer to the centrally contracted list which includes 20 players. Meanwhile, Ajaz Patel returns to the list as well.
Neesham has not featured in Test cricket since 2017 and he played nine T20Is over the last 12 months, which includes in the T20 World Cup. He scored 92 runs in seven innings at a strike-rate of 135.29 and took three wickets with an economy of 8.20 in the tournament. He last played an ODI in March last year against Bangaldesh, where he took a five-wicket haul.
"He's obviously disappointed. There's no doubt about that," New Zealand head coach Gary Stead said in a statement.
"Jimmy's lost a New Zealand contract but that doesn't mean he's lost a contract within New Zealand, so there's still an opportunity to pick up a domestic contract and be available to play domestically. It also doesn't mean Jimmy Neesham won't play for New Zealand again. It's the process of contracting, it's not the process of selection."
Further, Stead expressed happiness with Bracewell's impressive run in the domestic circuit. "Michael’s been consistently performing on the domestic circuit for seasons now and we certainly see him as an international prospect in all three formats," he said.
Speaking about Ajaz's return, Stead said, "It's great to see Ajaz back on the list after narrowly missing out last season. His value as our leading red-ball spinner is clear and we're excited to see the role he could play in the test team going forward.
"I'd like to congratulate all 20 players who have received a national contract offer for the coming season and wish those heading away this winter all the best."
New Zealand's next assignment will be against a revamped England side, led by Ben Stokes, for a three-match Test series, starting on June 2 at Lord's.