Adam Milne makes NZ Cricket cut after surgery

COILED SPRING: Adam Milne landed his first New Zealand Cricket contract yesterday, but will miss the NZA tour of England due to elbow surgery.
COILED SPRING: Adam Milne landed his first New Zealand Cricket contract yesterday, but will miss the NZA tour of England due to elbow surgery.

Such is the rollercoaster ride of a tearaway fast bowler.

Adam Milne became a New Zealand Cricket contracted player yesterday, as he braces for elbow surgery which will rule him out of this month's New Zealand A tour of England.

The 22-year-old from Manawatu was one of six first-timers on the top-20 list, alongside fellow paceman Matt Henry, test spin duo Mark Craig and Ish Sodhi, allrounder Jimmy Neesham and wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi.

Milne goes under the knife in Auckland today to remove a bone spur, which isn't considered serious but will sideline him for six weeks. He hopes to be back and firing before the home ODIs against South Africa in October.

''I knew I was thereabouts [contract list] but you never know when you haven't played for a while. It was pretty exciting to get the news, particularly in the year of cricket we've got ahead,'' Milne said.

He and Canterbury's Henry, also 22, made an impact in the home summer, and with 17 ODIs before the World Cup are certain to get chances in the bowler rotation.

Milne was clocked at an express 153kmh against West Indies then hurried up a few Indian batsmen in Napier before breaking down with a side strain.

He was back to full pace in the nets when the elbow niggle appeared. The slightly-built Milne knows he has to become more durable, and toiled hard in the gym to strengthen his base, quads and glutes, to withstand the pressure on his body.

''It feels like it [Napier] was two or three years ago. It was great to finally put in a decent performance for my own peace of mind and show I'm capable of playing at that level. That's driven me to keep training and pushing myself, and repay the selectors.''

The pace bowling stocks are strong, with Hamish Bennett and Doug Bracewell missing the cut. Bracewell's slide wasn't for disciplinary reasons, said Bruce Edgar, the general manager national selection.

''Doug has slipped down the list a bit. He's still in the frame. It's become very competitive which augurs well.''

Others to drop off were opening pair Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford, batsmen Grant Elliott and Dean Brownlie and spinner Bruce Martin who will go onto domestic contracts which are announced on July 25.

At 35, Fulton's international career is over while Rutherford's axing makes it clear the hunt is on for a new test opener to partner Tom Latham against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in November.

Rutherford needed to get runs and hone his technique with NZA and Otago, Edgar said.

''Once you lose your confidence at international level; it's tough and uncompromising and you need to drop down again to come back up.''

Otago youngster Michael Bracewell, another left-hander who will open with Latham in NZA's first-class matches in England, appears the leading contender.

Edgar said Martin Guptill, Jeet Raval, Daniel Flynn, Michael Papps and Aaron Redmond remained in the frame.

Bracewell ended the Plunket Shield season with back-to-back 150s, and is playing in Gloucestershire under the guidance of his uncle John, the former Black Caps coach.

''He's certainly demonstrating good skill as an opener. We just need to be confident that he can move to the next level,'' Edgar said.


New Zealand Cricket contracts for 2014-15 (in possible ranking order): Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, BJ Watling, Jimmy Neesham, Corey Anderson, Tom Latham, Neil Wagner, Martin Guptill, Kyle Mills, Nathan McCullum, Mitchell McClenaghan, Luke Ronchi, Colin Munro, Mark Craig, Ish Sodhi, Matt Henry, Adam Milne.

In: Neesham, Ronchi, Craig, Sodhi, Henry, Milne.

Out: Peter Fulton, Hamish Rutherford, Bruce Martin, Dean Brownlie, Grant Elliott, Doug Bracewell.

Close: Michael Bracewell, Anton Devcich, Hamish Bennett.

Unavailable: Daniel Vettori, Jeetan Patel.

Money: The rankings are not made public. Top-ranked gets an annual retainer of $195,375, dropping in increments to $79,475 for players ranked 18-20.

The Dominion Post