Jimmy Neesham has denied a central contract on the “basis of pre-arranged agreements he had already reached with international domestic leagues,” according to New Zealand Cricket (NZC), which announced this on Friday. Neesham will still be taken into consideration for BLACKCAPS selection when he becomes available, according to the authority. The all-rounder also provided clarity on Instagram, stating that while making this choice was “tough,” he was unable to break his promise.
“I know the news of my decision to decline a central contract today will be seen as me choosing money over representing my country. I had planned to accept a contract offer in July, however since being left off the list I have committed to other leagues around the world. It was a difficult decision but I have decided to honour those commitments rather than go back on my word to re-sign with NZ Cricket,” Neesham wrote on Instagram. “Playing for the @blackcapsnz has been the greatest honour of my career and I remain committed to taking the field with my countrymen for the foreseeable future, especially in pinnacle world events,” he added.
The vacancies left by Trent Boult and Colin de Grandhomme, respectively, being replaced by Blair Tickner and Finn Allen accepting their first New Zealand Cricket central contracts. While 23-year-old Wellington batsman Allen has already played for his country in eight ODIs and 13 T20s, Central Stags speed bowler Tickner has played for the BLACKCAPS in six ODIs and eleven T20s. Allen also participated in the most recent series in the West Indies and Australia. Both were featured on the BLACKCAPS winter tours to Ireland, Scotland, and the Netherlands.
Each of the new players on the central contracts list, according to BLACKCAPS coach Gary Stead, had been in the top 20 players named in May and had seized their opportunity since then. “Blair’s been in BLACKCAPS squads for all three formats over the past 12 months which is testament to his progress,” he said in an official statement. “He’s a bowler who just keeps improving and we’ve been particularly impressed with his red-ball development, which saw him in the recent squads for England and South Africa Tests,” he added.