Firebirds Announce Contracts for 2017-18 Season

Cricket Wellington are pleased to announce the initial 14 players offered Wellington Firebirds’ contracts for the 2017-18 season.

The list includes the previously announced new additions of Michael Bracewell and Logan van Beek, who are moving to Wellington where they will reconnect with former-New Zealand U19 teammate, Tom Blundell.

Another player offered a Firebirds’ contract for the first time is all-rounder, Malcolm Nofal. The Onslow Cricket Club left-hander was in top form for the CricHQ Wellington A side during last year’s national provincial tournament, averaging 49.80 with the bat and 19.50 with the ball. His elevation to the contracted players’ list is an exciting next step for the former-South African U19 representative:

I’m really excited to join the Firebirds’ family in this new chapter in my life and to try make an impact where I can for Wellington, Nofal explained before noting, I’m just really keen to get in the mix.

The other eleven players in the first contract announcement were all part of the Firebirds’ squad last season, ensuring the team culture that has developed under coaches, Bruce Edgar and Glenn Pocknall, will continue to thrive. Head Coach Edgar sees some real positives heading in to the season with a settled core to his squad, particularly for those who are knocking on the door for higher honours:

The contracting process always creates a few selection headaches but we think we’ve got a squad here that can build on what we achieved last year. It’s also exciting that the likes of Tom Blundell and Hamish Bennett are going to have more opportunities to show their skills and keep pushing for game time with the BLACKCAPS.

While these contracts have a start date of September 1, it has been a busy winter for many of these players and there is more work to be done before the team reconvenes in spring. While some are playing overseas, like Jeetan Patel with Warwickshire and Michael Papps in Scotland with Ayr, others have been training closer to home. In the coming months, a number of contracted players will tour to India with the Hutt Hawks, others will head to Brisbane to train, while Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Andrew Smith, will ensure no one gets off lightly.

Cricket Wellington’s new CEO, Cam Mitchell, sees the announcement of these contract offers as a public showing of the hard work that players and support staff have been putting in during the off-season. He’s also quick to acknowledge that much of that work is focused on the wider cricket community and making this summer a success for all involved in cricket in the Wellington region.

Announcing our player contracts is an exciting step towards the 2017-18 season and we’re confident of the impact these players will have on our community, Mitchell says. Cricket Wellington staff and players have been working hard behind the scenes preparing for next summer at both the grassroots and high performance levels.

Although they were not in consideration for contracts, the Firebirds’ trio of former-BLACKCAPS’ – Luke Ronchi, Grant Elliott, and Hamish Marshall – will all be available for T20 selection. All three played key roles in the Firebirds’ epic come-from-behind run to the Super Smash title last season and their experience and guidance will again be an asset to the side.

Cricket Wellington acknowledge the contribution made by Brent Arnel, Michael Pollard, and Matt McEwan during their time with the Firebirds and are pleased to see all three players recognised with contracts at other Major Associations.

The 14 players offered Wellington Firebirds’ contracts are, in alphabetical order,

Hamish Bennett
Tom Blundell
Michael Bracewell
Fraser Colson
Iain McPeake
Stephen Murdoch
Malcolm Nofal
Michael Papps
Jeetan Patel
Matt Taylor
Logan van Beek
Anurag Verma
Luke Woodcock
Peter Younghusband

The player offered the 15th contract, to complete the contracting process, was announced on Wednesday 26 July as Ollie Newton.