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Firebirds put faith in homegrown talent

The Wellington Firebirds will again put their faith in homegrown talent this summer as they begin a new era under head coach Glenn Pocknall.

The first round of 15 players have been offered contracts for the 2019/20 summer, with several Cricket Wellington pathway graduates selected.

Andrew Fletcher, Lauchie Johns, Ben Sears and Rachin Ravindra who all debuted for the Firebirds last season having progressed through the pathway system are again offered contracts.

Fletcher, Johns and Sears all played key roles in the Firebird’s successful Ford Trophy run last year, while Ravindra proved his huge potential with strong performances in the Plunket Shield and Burger King Super Smash after returning from New Zealand A duty.

There are two returning faces included on the list – allrounder Jamie Gibson and batsman Fraser Colson – both also Wellington locals.

Gibson, a previously contracted Firebird in 2015/16, is selected off the back of his impressive performances for the Wellington A team, while Colson, a former New Zealand Under 19 representative and contracted Firebird in 2016/17 and 2017/18, returns from a spell with Otago where he was named Otago A Batsman of the Year.

Firebirds head coach Glenn Pocknall said the inclusion of more local talent was a pleasing feature of the first-round list.

“We’re really excited to again be able to bring through our best Wellington talent and give them opportunities at the highest domestic level,” he said.

“The young guys took full advantage of their opportunity last year and will now be able to build on what they learned this season and develop into even better cricketers.

“It’s great to now be able to give that opportunity to Fraser and Jamie again, and we’re really excited to see how they contribute to what will hopefully be another successful summer.”

The Firebirds will also be able to draw on strong domestic experience with Hamish Bennett, Logan van Beek and Michael Bracewell all included again, while Jeetan Patel will embark on yet another season with Wellington off the back of his successful winter in the UK with Warwickshire.

Last season’s Domestic Player of the Year Devon Conway is also there and will be looking to continue his impressive performances as he nears international eligibility.

BLACKCAPS Jimmy Neesham and Tom Blundell are not included in the list having received central New Zealand contracts in May, and Luke Woodcock’s name is missing for the first time in 17 years after he announced his retirement in March.

The sixteenth contracted Firebird will be named in the second round of selections on June 30.

Wellington Firebirds 1st round contracted players:

Hamish Bennett
Michael Bracewell
Fraser Colson
Devon Conway
Andrew Fletcher
Jamie Gibson
Lauchie Johns
Iain McPeake
Ollie Newton
Malcolm Nofal
Jeetan Patel
Rachin Ravindra
Ben Sears
Logan van Beek
Peter Younghusband