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Top paceman joins Central Stags

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Brett Randell - New Zealand’s leading first-class bowler in 2021/22 - transfers to Central Districts CDCA pays tribute to long-serving strike bowler Adam Milne 14 of 16 Central Stags contracted players locked in for season 2022/23

A new face and the absence of an old friend feature in the first round of 2022/23 Central Stags contract announcements today.

Central Districts Cricket welcomes last summer’s top Plunket Shield wicket-taker Brett Randell to the Central Stags - an exciting addition to a strong pace squad as he transfers from Northern Districts.

After 11 seasons as a proud Central Stag, fast bowling BLACKCAP Adam Milne meanwhile will continue his career in Wellington colours after transferring to the capital - where he has been based with his partner for a number of years.

Central Stags Head Coach Rob Walter said Milne departed with the team’s and Association’s best wishes, and has an exciting acquisition in Randell to help fill that void.

"With Milney, obviously it’s always very sad to lose a player of his quality, who has been a member of the Stags team for more than 10 years and been an integral part of our team when he was available," Walter said.

"It was a tough decision for him.

"He has been a loyal Stag who has been commuting for us for the last five or six seasons. He is away from home a lot throughout the year now, and this is a move for Milney that will allow him to spend more time at home during the New Zealand season which we all understand.

"We will miss him, but we fully understand his situation as an international cricketer now who plays in different leagues around the world."

CDCA has announced 14 of the 16 contracted player spots for 2022/23 today, with two remaining berths to be filled by mid-July.

With strong Central Stags representation in the BLACKCAPS, and left-arm paceman Ben Wheeler ruled out of action for next season due to the severity of the knee injury he sustained whilst preparing for a Ford Trophy match earlier this year, Walter said it was imperative to now strengthen the pace bowling stocks.

"Wheels is looking at a lengthy rehab, and we will support him through that process. Once it also became clear that Milney was moving on, we needed to consider the depth in the group.

"Brett is someone I had kept an eye on for a few years and he had an amazing 2021/22 first-class season. He obviously did well against us.

"He’s also had a very strong List A one-day record when given the opportunity, although didn’t play a Ford Trophy game for ND last summer. That presented an opportunity to have a discussion with him and we’re excited to now welcome him to our squad which otherwise has no real surprises with our core of experienced players and exciting talents coming through.

The Central Stags contracted player group will formally begin their contractual period on 1 September 2022 in the build-up to an exciting and fresh summer of cricket with the new season schedules to be released later this winter.

"In all three formats, I believe we weren’t far off a title last season, and we will be back continuing to build on what we started last year."

Brett Randell

At 27, right-armer Randell is fresh off his best season yet and his Plunket Shield numbers speak for themselves.

In the 2021/22 first-class summer, Randell was the equal highest wicket-taker in New Zealand (with Wellington Firebird Nathan Smith) with 31 victims. He finished top of the charts with an impressive average of 14.83 after two five-wicket bags and a best of 6-45.

He has also proven himself useful with a bat, scoring his second and third Plunket Shield half centuries last season.

Since his debut in 2016/17, the former NZ U19 rep has taken 52 first-class, 47 one-day and 19 T20 wickets overall for ND, and the opportunity to further develop his white-ball cricket formed part of the attraction of the move across the border to CD.

"I’m excited for a change and new chapter," said Randell.

"CD is a great organisation and, even while I was at Northern Districts, I got to know the CD boys pretty well. They’re a good bunch of lads, and I’m excited to join the group. Obviously the CD bowling stocks are strong. You’ve got Dougie [Doug Bracewell], Rancer [Seth Rance], Ticks [Blair Tickner] who have all played at white-ball level for New Zealand.

"White-ball cricket has been a constant work-on of mine. Ever since I was a kid I’ve been trained as a red-ball cricketer, and adjusting to playing white-ball at this level has been challenging. I feel like I’ve been improving every year and now I want to keep building on that and explore what my white-ball game looks like.

"I’m looking forward to bouncing ideas off Rob and the rest of the coaching staff and squad, and figuring out how to progress my skills further this year."

In the red-ball format, Randell’s standout first-class summer was partly a product of figuring out how far he could push himself in training as he built up over the off-season - as a player with ankylosing spondylitis, a form of inflammatory arthritis that affects the spine and hips.

"In terms of white-ball fitness, it’s never been an issue, but to have been able to get a good red-ball season in under the belt, that was really comforting for me," says Randell.

"And also inspiring because now I can continue to build, and hopefully just get better and better."

Adam Milne

At 30, Adam Milne leaves his home Association of CD for the first time after more than a decade’s service.

Milne first debuted for the Stags as a raw young quick fresh out of Palmerston North Boys’ High in March 2010 - taking 4-52 on first-class debut, and then helping the Stags get across the line with the bat in a tight one-wicket win at Pukekura Park.

It was a thrilling start to a career that took him all the way to the top.

"I’d like to thank the CD cricket players and management for all the support they have given me throughout my years with CD - they have helped me develop into the player and person I am today," said Milne.

"I’ll always cherish my time playing for CD, and have some great memories.

"This year, however, having lived in Wellington for a number of years, it made sense to play for Wellington and have the opportunity to spend some more time at home in and around the cricket."

Milne leaves the CD chapter of his career having played 23 first-class matches for the Stags (69 wickets, two bags, high score 97); 30 Ford Trophy matches (48 wickets, a best of 4-48 and his maiden 50 last season); and 42 T20 games for the team (46 wickets, with a best of 3-12 in the 2019 Super Smash Grand Final which helped win the title that season).

His last match for the Stags was the 2022 Ford Trophy Grand Final in Queenstown earlier this year, amid a career that has also seen him turn on the afterburners for the BLACKCAPS in both ODI and T20 International cricket and ICC Cricket World Cups. He has also starred in T20 and The Hundred franchises around the world, including several stints in the IPL - as well as getting his Kent cap in England’s County Championship.

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