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Rising Star Rachin Ravindra Among New Zealand’s Fresh Central Contract Recipients

Emerging batting sensation Rachin Ravindra has been rewarded for his breakthrough season in the international circuit as the southpaw has been offered his first New Zealand central contract.

Pacers Will O’Rourke, Jacob Duffy, and Ben Sears have also been offered their maiden New Zealand central contracts alongside Ravindra, marking a significant step in their cricket journeys.

However, right-arm speedster Adam Milne has denied a contract, joining a list of prominent Kiwis, including Lockie Ferguson and Kane Williamson, who have opted out. Notably, fast bowler Blair Tickner has been dropped from the 20 players offered central contracts by New Zealand Cricket (NZC) for the 2024-25 season. In a contrasting move, the 35-year-old left-arm orthodox spinner Ajaz Patel has made a return to the list after being previously snubbed.

Ravindra’s addition to the central contract list has not come as a surprise to many. The 24-year-old has made rapid strides in international cricket recently. He emerged as the leading run-getter for the Blackcaps at the ODI World Cup held in India last year. Ravindra scored 578 runs at an outstanding average of 64.22 and a strike rate of 106.44, compiling three centuries and two half-centuries along the way. His impressive performance in 2023 was recognized by the International Cricket Council (ICC) when he was named the ICC Emerging Player of the Year 2023 in January. In addition, he was honoured with the Sir Richard Hadlee Medal in March at the New Zealand Cricket Awards, making him the youngest recipient of this prestigious accolade.

Expressing his delight, Ravindra called the offer a “pinch-myself moment.” He went on to emphasize his burning desire to continue improving and contributing to the Blackcaps. “Growing up, you’d see those contract lists come out each year and think it would be cool to be on that list one day – and for it to eventuate now is a pinch-myself moment,” Ravindra stated in a press release issued by New Zealand Cricket.

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. He added, “It’s been a really cool past 12 months playing international cricket. I’ve learned a lot and the hunger is definitely there to keep improving and giving to the BLACKCAPS.”

Ravindra reflects on his journey, highlighting the significance of playing alongside a special group of players and support staff. “It’s such a special group to be in, from players to support staff – and that’s been the most enjoyable part, to be honest. Playing a game you love with your mates for a living is something very special, and I hold it close to my heart,” he said.

The updates also bring to light the mixed fortunes of other players. Adam Milne’s decision to opt-out of the central contract offer is notable. While reasons for such decisions can vary from personal priorities to managing workload, Milne’s case adds another layer of intrigue as he joins the ranks of Lockie Ferguson and Kane Williamson, both of whom had previously turned down central contracts.

Fast bowler Blair Tickner misses out on the bounty this time, having been dropped from the central contract list. Conversely, Ajaz Patel’s return signals a renewed faith in his spin-bowling prowess. Patel was earlier left out, causing a stir among cricket enthusiasts, but his re-inclusion brings a balanced combination of experience and skill to the Blackcaps.

The introduction of Will O’Rourke, Jacob Duffy, and Ben Sears into the central contracts fold suggests NZC’s commitment to nurturing new talent and ensuring the team’s competitive edge. Their performances have evidently impressed selectors, paving the way for these young pacers to play more prominent roles in the national setup.

New Zealand central contracts for the 2024-25 season are as follows: Finn Allen, Tom Blundell, Michael Bracewell, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Jacob Duffy, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Will O’Rourke, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitchell Santner, Ben Sears, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, and Will Young. This diverse mix of veteran players and budding stars highlights the depth and potential within New Zealand cricket as the Blackcaps prepare for an exciting year ahead.