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Stags sign up for new summer

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Two Hawke’s Bay cricketers are today celebrating freshly signed professional contracts with the Central Stags.

BAYLEY WIGGINS and BRAD SCHMULIAN are first-time inclusions on the Stags’s annual roster - with two further names to be announced on 7 July to complete the allocation of 16 contract spots for the coming 2020/21 season.

Both got their Stags careers off to a flying start, and have already made a mark for the top team.

Born and raised in Hastings, Wiggins is a product of the CD development system who made his Stags debut as a relatively unknown 20-year-old in 2018/19, whistled in to fill in as a keeper-batsman for one match during the Stags’ successful T20 campaign that summer.

When he then stepped into the one-day Ford Trophy last season for the first time, he quickly showed his promise and composure by scoring 98 in his first bat - anchoring the Stags innings with the top score.

Narrowly missing out on a List A hundred was bittersweet and Pukekura Park fell silent in sympathy for the youngster when he was trapped LBW - just shy of what was so nearly a storybook maiden century. It didn’t take long for Wiggins to banish the disappointment, however. Just one week later the team was back at Pukekura Park and he again got going at the top - this time clinching his first century for the delighted home crowd.

Wiggins would finish the campaign averaging an impressive 68.00 from his first season of List A. Nationally, that was the fourth highest batting average of the entire 2019/20 Ford Trophy season.

At 29, Schmulian has been the late bloomer but, when he got his chance to debut in the 2018/19 Plunket Shield, he immediately wrote himself into cricket history. Schmulian’s 203 on first-class debut, against Northern Districts, away at Bay Oval, is the highest score by any New Zealand player in their maiden innings.

With a distinct and mercurial style, Schmulian now has 16 Plunket Shield and six Ford Trophy matches under his belt with the Stags, as well as two first-class championship medals. He’s added eight half centuries and a List A unbeaten 61- to his record and 12 first-class wickets with his leg-spinners, with a knack for picking up wickets just as his team is searching for a breakthrough.

Schmulian earns his first full-season contract after having earlier been elevated to professional status in February this year, as a list replacement for Kieran Noema-Barnett who elected to relinquish the last couple of months of his 2019/20 contract to take up full-time employment outside the game.

Said CDCA General Manager, High Performance Lance Hamilton, "With the elevation of Ajaz Patel to a BLACKCAPS contract this year, joining Ross Taylor and Will Young at that level, it’s exciting for us to now be able to welcome both Brad and Bayley onto our list.

"Our number one keeper-batsman Dane Cleaver is pushing hard for higher honours so it’s a great time to have another homegrown all-round talent emerging in Bayley.

"Like Dane, he adds real value both in the top order and with the gloves, and was a like for like replacement for Dane last summer when Dane was called up for New Zealand A."

Hamilton said it was otherwise a familiar look to the first round of contract announcements, built around a hub of proven performers across the three formats.

"A number of our senior players were very unlucky with injuries and surgery that affected their availability last season. The likes of Adam Milne and Doug Bracewell will be really relishing a return to regular cricket after sitting out all, or most, of last season.

"We had a horrible run with injuries across the season but we still finished runners-up in the Plunket Shield, and came out of it with a number of our younger or developing players now having had game time and valuable opportunities in the absence of more senior players.

"We had four players - Ray Toole, Jarrod Mckay, Ben Stoyanoff and Stefan Hook - make first-class debuts, as well as Joey Field and Jayden Lennox coming into the squad for the first time. Five players - Ray Toole, Brad Schmulian, Bayley Wiggins, Jayden Lennox and Ryan Watson all made their List A debuts, and Ryan Watson also made his T20 debut.

"Every opportunity to play and gain experience at this level makes it easier to slot back in as required."

Missing from today’s first-round names is South African allrounder WILLEM LUDICK who has elected not to return to New Zealand for the 2020/21 summer.

A contracted player for the past two seasons, after having progressed from the Nelson and Central Districts A representative teams, the 23-year-old made his first-class debut towards the end of the 2017/18 Plunket Shield; scored his maiden century the following season; and was the Stags’ Plunket Shield Player of the Year for 2019/20, representing the Stags in all three formats.

Ludick has decided to take up educational and professional opportunities in the USA. "I am very thankful for all the opportunities I received and the friendships I have made during my time in Central Districts," he said.

Said Hamilton, "While sad to see Willem go, we all wish Willem well on the next phase of his life and career."

Under the terms of the 2018-22 Master Agreement between NZC, the six Major Associations and the New Zealand Cricket Players’ Association, 10 to 15 men can be named per team in the first round of contracts. The two-step process allows for a transfer window, open until 26 June, before the second round of contracted players announcements is confirmed to complete each association’s pro roster of 16.

The contract period begins on 1 September. The 2020/21 Plunket Shield, Ford Trophy and Dream11 Super Smash schedules will be announced by NZC in the coming months.

2020/21 CENTRAL STAGS Contracts - first round

Doug Bracewell - Hawke’s Bay

Tom Bruce - Taranaki

Josh Clarkson - Nelson

Dane Cleaver - Manawatū

Greg Hay - Nelson

Christian Leopard - Hawke’s Bay

Adam Milne - Manawatū

Seth Rance - Wairarapa

Ben Smith - Whanganui

Brad Schmulian - Hawke’s Bay

Blair Tickner - Hawke’s Bay

Ben Wheeler - Marlborough

Bayley Wiggins - Hawke’s Bay

George Worker - Manawatū

2020/21 BLACKCAPS Contracts

Ajaz Patel

Ross Taylor

Will Young

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