The Wellington Firebirds will mix youth with experience in the one-day arena this summer as they look to the future in the Ford Trophy competition.
Firebirds coaching staff will look to give opportunities to players who have progressed through the academy while resting some of their seasoned veterans including Jeetan Patel and Luke Woodcock.
The move comes as part of the Firebirds overall plan to blood more local Wellington talent into its premier teams.
One player who is likely to benefit from the plan is Wellington College old boy Jakob Bhula.
The 18-year-old burst on to the world scene for New Zealand at the Under 19 World Cup earlier this year, smashing 180 off 144 balls against Kenya – the highest ever individual score at the tournament.
Bhula returns to Wellington for the Ford Trophy campaign after a season in England with the Twickenham Cricket Club as an MCC Young Cricketer and is likely to slot into the Firebirds middle order.
The Firebirds trust in youth will also benefit young fast bowler Ben Sears who was named as twelfth-man in the Firebirds Plunket Shield victory over the Otago Volts last week.
Sears has also impressed at New Zealand Under 19 level and the Firebirds coaching staff will be looking to develop his skill set alongside senior bowlers Hamish Bennett and Iain McPeake.
Andrew Fletcher, who was awarded the final spot on the Firebirds contract list last month, will also be given an opportunity after starring for the representative A teams in recent seasons.
Firebirds head coach Glenn Pocknall, who will take over the head coach reigns from Bruce Edgar for the Ford Trophy competition, said including younger players alongside the more experienced players would only be positive for youth development.
“We have a great balance of experience and youth in the squad this season. Players who have represented their country at test and ODI levels and players who have stood out at domestic and age group levels. Having this balance will ensure the new players are learning and growing with the support of an inclusive leadership group assisting them.”
Pocknall also praised fast bowler Hamish Bennett who will captain the Firebirds for the Ford Trophy campaign.
“Hamish is a natural leader and since coming on board he has been a big contributor to our positive culture which has complemented his superb skill as a bowler. He will lead from the front and is feared as the best death bowler in the country.”
The Firebirds begin their Ford Trophy campaign against Canterbury at the Basin Reserve on October 24.
The Wellington Firebirds squad members for Round 1 of the Ford Trophy are:
Hamish Bennett ©
Click here to see the Ford Trophy 2018-19 schedule.