Familiar faces make-up Northern Districts' pace bowling unit for the upcoming season.
James Baker, Scott Kuggeleijn, Brett Randell, Zak Gibson and Matthew Fisher have all returned for 2019-20, providing a great mix of youth, experience and quality.
Used mostly as a red-ball bowler last season, Baker was the ever-present in the side appearing in all eight of our Plunket Shield matches; the only other player to do so was opening batsman Henry Cooper.
Baker was extremely disciplined with the new ball and old, taking 20 wickets at a very good average of 28.30.
Baker's new ball partner in six of these Plunket Shield matches was Scott Kuggeleijn, who enjoyed an equally impressive first-class season, taking 22 wickets at an average of 28.41.
Kuggeleijn also enjoyed a stellar T20 season, claiming 13
dismissals to finish as our highest wicket-taker, including a wonderful 4-18
against the Auckland Aces.
This form also saw Kuggeleijn earn a maiden call-up to the BLACKCAPS T20 squad, where he made an impact with both bat and ball in series against Sri Lanka and India.
While List A appearances were limited for Baker and Kuggeleijn, Brett Randell and Zak Gibson took-up the challenge of leading the attack for our Ford Trophy campaign, with the competition providing the most appearances of the three formats for the duo.
Randell featured in eight Ford Trophy matches, averaging 28 and taking 11 wickets, the second-most of any ND player, while Gibson turned-out six times in the Ford Trophy, taking four wickets.
The two also featured to lesser extent in the Super Smash and Plunket Shield, combing for five further wickets.
Both young bowlers made great strides across last season and will be looking to continue their development in 2019-20.
Another youngster to return for ND is Matthew Fisher.
Fisher was a star of the Under-19 World Cup in New Zealand two summers ago with his strong performances earning him a Northern Districts contract for 2018-19.
Unfortunately injury prevented him from making any appearances for ND last season, but there is no question over the potential Fisher has, or the quality he currently possesses, and he will be looking to break into the ND XI this season.
Thursday, July 11
One of last season's top performers has earned a Northern Districts contract for the 2019-20 season.
Joe Carter piled on the runs in 2018-19 as he scored centuries in both the Plunket Shield and Ford Trophy as a non-contracted player.
These kinds of performances were hard to ignore when it came to choosing the ND squad for the upcoming season, and Carter has regained the contracted status he previously held.
Carter's first appearance last season came in round four of the Ford Trophy and coincided with an upturn in the team's form. In only his second match, Carter hit a first ever List A century off just 76 balls to lead ND to their first Ford Trophy victory of the campaign over the Central Stags - a match better remembered for the setting of a List A world record 43 runs off a single over; 18 of these runs being scored by Carter.
Carter was instrumental as the team won three of their next four matches to propel themselves into play-off contention, until an abandonment in the final round meant they would eventually miss out on a play-off spot by one point.
While the side would no doubt have been disappointed to miss out on the finals, Carter could look back on the Ford Trophy with enormous satisfaction; an average of 123 at a strike-rate of 103.80 was enough to see him named ND's Ford Trophy Player of the Year.
Carter then carried his white-ball form into the longer format, again providing an instant impact as he hit a century in his first Plunket Shield innings of the season with a well-made 109 on a tricky Seddon Park surface against Wellington Firebirds.
Carter continued scoring solidly throughout the red-ball game and proved his flexibility, batting in every position from three to seven. A return of 423 runs at an average of 42.30 was just reward for a consistent Plunket Shield campaign in which he finished as ND's second-highest scorer.
Somewhat fittingly, Carter took the last catch to defeat Plunket Shield champions Central Stags in the final match of the domestic season; a fantastic one-handed effort at leg slip off the bowling of Ish Sodhi.
ND is delighted to have Joe Carter back under contract and looks forward to some even stronger performances from him in the 2019-20 season.The further five contracted players will be announced shortly.
Monday, July 8
Henry Cooper, Bharat Popli and Joe Walker have retained their ND contracts for the upcoming season.
Cooper and Popli add strength to the batting line-up and will be looking to build on some good performances in the 2018-19 season.
Cooper was an ever-present at the top of the order in the Plunket Shield, scoring 471 runs, his best Plunket Shield return yet, to finish as Northern Districts' leading run-scorer and eighth in the competition overall. As important as these runs was Cooper's ability to see-off the new ball, laying the platform for those beneath him to set a competitive total.
Bharat Popli, a fellow opening partner of Cooper's, proved a flexible option last season in both four-day and one-day cricket, batting in most positions throughout the top and middle-order. Popli's most successful competition last year was the Ford Trophy, where he averaged an impressive 42.67; the third-highest of all ND batsmen.
While both offer part-time spin options to bolster the bowling stocks, Joe Walker will again come into the season as one of ND's front-line spin bowlers.
Walker recorded his best bowling figures in both the Ford Trophy and Plunket Shield last season, taking a first career five-wicket haul in the latter, as his 5-25 in the fourth innings led ND to victory over the Wellington Firebirds at Seddon Park.
The further six contracted players will be announced shortly.
Wednesday, July 3
BLACKCAPS appearances, world records, milestones and big-hitting were 2018-19 highlights for ND pair Daryl Mitchell and Brett Hampton.
The two will again occupy the all-rounder spots, along with Anton Devcich, for the upcoming season.
Having appeared for NZ A earlier in the season, Mitchell earned a well-deserved BLACKCAPS call-up for the home T20 series against India, where he acquitted himself well with both bat and ball.
Having been close to the national side for some time, Mitchell's outstanding 2018-19 Super Smash campaign was what finally saw him pull on the fern.
Mitchell top-scored for the Knights with 323 runs, the third-highest of all players in the competition, at an average of 32.3 and a whopping strike-rate of 139.22. His bowling was also incredibly valuable, bowling some vital overs at the death and taking six wickets throughout the competition.
Mitchell also topped the six-hitting charts in the format where fast runs are the most important, sending the ball over the rope 19 times. This skill came to the fore when he scored a 23-ball 61 against the Central Stags to help set ND's largest ever T20 total. These runs were scored in a 98-run partnership with our other all-rounder, Brett Hampton, who also enjoyed the 2018-19 Super Smash.
Hampton would go on to make his highest T20 score of 64 off 31 balls in that match, but this was just one moment in a season of highlights. Hampton was our third-highest scorer in Super Smash with 200 runs, again at a frenetic strike-rate of 136.99, while his bowling average of 17.50 was the best of any Knights player.
But it was in the 50-over format where Hampton's greatest moment came.
Heading to the crease with ND at 95-5 in the 26th over, Hampton scored 95 off 66 balls as he combined with Joe Carter for a 178-run partnership which included 43 runs off a single over - a List A world record.
This was the keynote performance in a strong season with the bat, where Hampton scored the second-most runs for ND in the Ford Trophy; hitting 271 runs at an outstanding average and strike-rate of 45.17 and 119.91 respectively.
Mitchell also clocked-up the milestones in the longer formats last season, surpassing 3,000 runs in the Plunket Shield and 2,000 runs in the Ford Trophy. He again highlighted his quality as a genuine all-rounder, averaging 35 and taking nine wickets in the Ford Trophy.The further nine contracted players will be announced shortly.
Monday, July 1
Northern Districts is pleased to announce the resigning of local product Anton Devcich for the 2019-20 season.
While the 2017-18 Super Smash Player of the Year made 14 appearances for ND last season, Devcich did not have an ND contract as he decided to pursue opportunities overseas.
"I was treading water to an extent in domestic cricket as I was running out of goals and wasn't quite in the New Zealand mix," says Devcich on his decision to to head overseas last season.
"I wanted to continue developing and improving as a player and the T20 World Cup in 2020 was on my mind.
"I thought that if I had any chance of making the squad, I needed to get outside my comfort zone and test myself against different players.
"When you play in New Zealand year-after-year you tend to become familiar with the guys you're playing against, whereas a competition like the T20 World Cup pits you against players you might've only seen a handful of times, so for me this seemed like the ideal way of preparing for that tournament."
Devcich's first foray into the world of franchise cricket came in the Hong Kong T20 Blitz.
"This was a tournament that had big names, small grounds, challenging pitches and a variety of bowlers, so it ticked a lot of the boxes for me," said Devcich.
After this first overseas experience, Devcich set about making his way around the globe, going on to feature in the Pakistan Super League (twice), Global T20 Canada, Caribbean Premier League, Afghanistan Premier League, UAE's T10 League and of course, Australia's Big Bash.
Devcich also played in New Zealand's Super Smash taking his tally of leagues played in last season to eight; fulfilling his goal of challenging himself to grow and test himself outside a familiar environment.
"Getting to face guys like Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabk, Shadab Khan, quality bowlers who I hadn't faced before, was exactly the variety I needed.
"It took a while to get used to, but you do start to develop a familiarity with these kinds of bowlers. Playing them in their conditions was also very valuable as it made the challenge even greater again. You learn how to be adaptable and think on your feet, which I think will stand me in good stead for the upcoming season."
So, which of the many leagues Devcich played in was the most interesting?
"It would have to be the Afghanistan Premier League.
"I was really sceptical about what was awaiting me in Afghanistan, but it really surprised me. Cricket aside the Afghan boys were incredibly open, welcoming and just very good people who loved their cricket. The culture was amazing."
Another league provided Devcich with fulfillment of a long-held ambition.
"The Big Bash was also an amazing experience, but for different reasons.
"I've always wanted to be a part of it and the hype of the competition was incredible. It also taught me a lot about what kind of cricketer it takes to be successful over there, which is invaluable for my goal of making the World Cup squad given the tournament is in Australia."
After a long season on the road, Devcich is looking forward to returning to familiar surroundings as he enters his 16th season as a Northern Districts player.
"I miss the structure, having guys who can keep an eye on what you're doing throughout the season and provide constant feedback is great," commented Devcich ahead of his ND return.
"I'm also looking forward to getting back among the boys and having that team focus. When you have guys who bounce around competition to competition, the will to win dwindles for some, and they only care about securing that next contract. It'll be nice to be back in an environment where we're focused on playing our best as a group to win competitions."
Winning competitions with ND aside, it's not hard to imagine what Devcich's other goal for the upcoming season is.
"On an individual level, it's still to make the T20 World Cup squad; it's the most enjoyable and successful format for me. I'll do everything I can over the next 12 months and it'll be great if I make it the squad, but if not I'll be happy knowing that I've given it my all to get there."
The further 11 contracted players will be announced shortly.
Friday, June 29
The position behind the stumps will have a familiar look to
it this season for Northern Districts as Tim Seifert and Peter Bocock have again
received contracts for 2019-20.
Last year was a significant season for both wicket-keepers as Seifert made his ODI debut for the BLACKCAPS and continued to build his international T20 reputation, while Bocock also stepped into the international fold when he pulled the gloves on for the BLACKCAPS in a Test Match at the Basin Reserve.
International appearances aside, both made significant contributions for Northern Districts across formats last season.
Milestones were passed by Seifert as he registered 2,000 runs and 100 catches in the Plunket Shield, a competition where Bocock took nine catches in just two matches.
Bocock was just as good with the gloves in the Ford Trophy, taking 12 catches while he was an outstanding contributor with the bat, registering three half-centuries on his way to averaging 42.6 at a strike-rate of 119.
Seifert played no part in the Ford Trophy due to NZ A commitments but combined with Bocock for 17 dismissals on the way to reaching the Super Smash Grand Final. Both players batting prowess also came to the fore, with Seifert striking at 129 in the key position of opener while Bocock went at 148, doing a job for the side in a variety of positions throughout the order.
The further 12 contracted players will be announced shortly.
Tuesday, June 25
Daniel Flynn and Dean Brownlie have secured Northern Districts contracts for the 2019-20 season - the first two players to be announced.
Being able to call upon their experienced leaders, who have both tasted captaincy in all formats, provides a strong base for the 2019/20 squad to build on.
Northern Districts General Manager People and Performance, Daniel Archer, expressed his delight at having secured Flynn and Brownlie's services for another season.
"Having continuity in your leaders and experienced players is really important, so naturally we are pleased that Daniel and Dean will be with us for the upcoming season," he said.
"Their experience and cricket knowledge is outstanding, so having them both contributing to the playing group will be invaluable for a squad which continues to grow and develop."
Leadership aside, the pair's ability with the bat cannot be understated, with numerous records held by the duo and good contributions forthcoming last season; something highlighted by Archer.
"Aside from that, having guys with their batting ability, who have played at the highest level, significantly strengthens our playing side and leaves us in a strong position ahead of the new season," added Archer.
As all strong leaders do, Flynn was quick to highlight his and Brownlie's role in bringing the group together.
"Dean and I are very much looking forward to leading ND and the Knights again this year," said Flynn on their selection.
"We've got a great bunch of guys who played some good cricket last season, so we're really keen to see how this group develops into the next season," he continued.
"We can't wait to get the group together and start to build towards a strong showing in all three competitions."