All-rounder James Neesham declines New Zealand central contract: Here's why
All-rounder James Neesham has turned down New Zealand central contract for the 2022-23 season. The 31-year-old cited commitments in T20 leagues across the globe as the reason for his decision. Neesham was left out of the original list released in May, which in turn led him to take up other assignments. Finn Allen and Blair Tickner have been handed their maiden deals. Here's more.
Here's what Neesham said
"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," said Neesham in an Instagram story.
Neesham follows the Boult way
Last month, Kiwi seamer Trent Boult opted out of the central contract after wanting to spend more time with the family and partake in T20 leagues across the globe. All-rounder Colin de Grandhomme soon retired after getting a contract with BBL franchise, Adelaide Strikers. Neesham was offered one of the two vacant positions but declined.
Neesham wanted to bid adieu to international cricket
Neesham had plans to retire from international cricket 18 months prior to the 2019 World Cup, owing to poor form and injuries. Heath Mills, the then CEO of the New Zealand Players Association, talked him out of it. As it turned out, Neesham emerged as one of NZ's pivotal players in the campaign and was on the cusp of winning them a World Cup.
Decoding Neesham's international career
Neesham marked his T20I debut against South Africa in 2012. Since then, he has amassed 607 runs in the format, striking at 165.84. The right-armer also owns 25 wickets. In Tests, he has slammed 709 runs at 33.76, besides picking 14 wickets. Notably, Neesham had struck a hundred on his debut against India. As for ODIs, he holds 1,409 runs and 69 scalps.
Allen, Tickner receive first contracts
Opener Finn Allen has shown great promise ever since his arrival in the international arena. He has belted 308 runs across eight ODIs (SR: 93.05). He owns three fifties, with the best score of 96 versus West Indies. Allen has slammed 334 T20I runs, striking at close to 170 (100s: 1, 50s: 1). Meanwhile, right-armer Tickner holds 21 scalps across 17 international appearances.
Complete list of centrally contracted New Zealand players for 2022-23
Centrally contracted NZ players: Tom Blundell, Blair Tickner, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Finn Allen, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young.
Will Neesham return to international cricket?
Neesham hasn't retired from international cricket. He will still be available for the Blackcaps in major cricketing events. He is a highly impactful player on both batting and bowling fronts, who could change the dynamics of a situation in a few deliveries. Meanwhile, NZ will announce their squad for the 2022 T20 WC on September 20.