Former New Zealand Under 19 batsman Jakob Bhula has been rewarded for his promising performances last summer with the sixteenth spot on the Firebird’s contracted list for the 2019/20 season.
The 19-year-old made his List A and first-class debuts for the Firebirds last season, playing an important role in their Ford Trophy triumph where he often opened the batting alongside Andrew Fletcher.
The former MCC Young Cricketer showed his promise with a well-made 99 against Central Districts at Bert Sutcliffe Oval in Lincoln, where he was unlucky not to reach his maiden Firebirds century after bad light and rain disrupted play.
The former Wellington College 1st XI captain shot to stardom for the New Zealand U19 team at the 2018 ICC U19 Cricket World Cup sharing a special stand with fellow Firebird Rachin Ravindra.
Bhula made a tournament record 180 as New Zealand amassed 436 against Kenya, he and Ravindra putting on a record stand of 245 for the first wicket.
Bhula is yet another player from the Cricket Wellington pathway programme to graduate to a full Firebirds contract, following Lauchie Johns, Ben Sears, Andrew Fletcher and Ravindra who all received their first contracts last summer.
Firebirds head coach Glenn Pocknall said Bhula would be a welcome addition to a team that is building towards a promising future.
“Jakob has proven he has the talent to succeed at this level and we saw that with his knock against CD last year,” he said.
“He has all the tools in his locker to be a top batsman and offers a bit with the ball as well, and we’re looking forward to being able to work with him this season to develop that skillset further.
Pocknall also praised the Cricket Wellington pathway programme that has produced yet another Firebirds graduate.
“That’s seven local Wellington players that have come through the system in recent years that are now in the squad, plus experienced guys like Tom Blundell, Iain McPeake and Jeetan Patel who have been around a while now, so it’s really pleasing to be building that Wellington culture and this is a group of eighteen guys that are really eager to have success together.”
The Firebirds will begin their pre-season preparations for the 2019/20 summer on September 2.
Wellington Firebirds final squad:
Tom Blundell (central NZC contract)
Jimmy Neesham (central NZC contract)
Logan van Beek