The Wellington Firebirds squad for the coming season has been announced, with one notable name missing as Stephen Murdoch makes the move to Christchurch for personal reasons.
Firebirds’ Head Coach, Bruce Edgar paid tribute to the Karori batsman, noting how his temperament drove him to succeed,
“Steve was a bit of a late-starter in terms of First-Class cricket, but he was always a talented player and has proven himself to be a consistent, determined, and level-headed player.
“He has played some great innings for us and proved himself as a genuine match-winner.”
While Murdoch played for the New Zealand U19 side in 2001-02, he had to wait until 2008 before making his senior provincial debut, playing against Northern Districts in a One-Day match.
His First-Class debut came against the same opponents two years later, but it was in the following season that his class really began to show.
Although he only played the last half of the 2010-11 season, Murdoch hit 86 and 104* against Northern Districts, added 50s playing Canterbury and Auckland, before hitting 141 against Central Districts.
In 2014-15, he set a Wellington First-Class record, hitting 998 runs in the season and claiming the Men’s Cricketer of the Year title at the Norwood Awards.
Edgar recalled an innings in his first season as coach which summed up the attitude of Murdoch,
“We were playing ND at Hamilton in the first match of the season and they had close to their full complement of BLACKCAPS in the line-up.
“Steve fell for not-many in the first innings but really took their bowling line-up [featuring Trent Boult, Mitchell Santner, and Tim Southee] on in the second dig and accepted the challenge.
“He made 93 in an innings that was like a Test match.”
The Firebirds are not the only Wellington side who will miss Murdoch this season, with the Karori club losing one of their stalwarts.
A proud member of the club, Murdoch took every opportunity to play for the Unicorns when his commitments allowed.
Cricket Wellington CEO, Cam Mitchell acknowledged Murdoch’s broad contribution to cricket in the capital,
“Steve is a real leader who can be proud of all he’s achieved with the Firebirds. His passion for the game, his team, and his club has always been evident.
“We’d like to also acknowledge the support and sacrifices of his family through the years. We wish them all well down south.”
Those well wishes are echoed by Edgar, but he has one message for the departing batsman,
“Go easy on us!”