Diamanti gets chance to shine with Canterbury
Brendon Diamanti goes from being just a hired T20 gun to a fully-fledged Canterbury contracted player for the coming season.
Diamanti's name was the only real eye-catcher in the list of 14 contracted players yesterday after the all-rounder was elevated to the ranks of full-time staff from October.
It means Diamanti, 33, will play in not only the province's T20 campaign, which he has for the past three seasons, but also the 50-over campaign and is eligible for the four-day series. However coach Gary Stead thought it unlikely he would play in that.
Stead spoke highly of the former Blenheim man who in recent years has been living in Perth.
"His all-round experience will be invaluable for us. We have lost a few players but the ability he shows preparing himself and his clarity at training will be a benefit to the group."
Stead said Diamanti has proved himself a match-winner at T20 level and he expected to carry that into the limited-over arena.
Diamanti will have several young pace bowlers, including Kyle Jamieson and Ed Nuttall who are contracted for the first time, to assist in mentoring.
He has relinquished the player-coaching role he held at a Perth club to commit to Canterbury.
Those contracted players from last season who were still available to miss out are Matt McEwan and Australia Simon Keen.
Stead said there was a greater emphasis on contracts for bowlers this time after the squad had previously been more batter weighted.
"The balance of the squad is a little different and you tend to use more pace bowlers because they are the ones more likely to get injured or need a rest and we were conscious we needed to develop that area."
Specialist batting stocks are wafer-thin with only Peter Fulton, Neil Broom and Henry Nicholls regarded in that category. That follows the departures of Rob Nicol, Brad Cachopa (both Auckland) , Dean Brownlie (Northern Districts) and George Worker (Central Districts).
"We did talk to some people and others approached us but nothing ultimately eventuated."
Stead said it was likely that Neil Broom would partner Peter Fulton at opening in limited-over matches while all-rounders Andrew Ellis and Todd Astle could be elevated up a place or two in the order.
"They are more than capable of doing that. A lot also depends if Tom Latham makes the World Cup squad."
Stead said there was no suggestion of Astle returning to open the batting which he did earlier in his career.
He said there was likely to be an opportunity for a well-performed A team player to press claims for a first-class opening spot.
Contenders for a top order role included Joel Abraham, Michael Davidson, Greg Dawson, Keryn Ambler, Cole McConchie and Jeff Case, with national under 19 players Leo Carter and Kenny McClure also in the mix.
One more contract is to be finalised by August 8 and it would be no surprise if that was a batsman.
Canterbury contracts: Todd Astle, Logan van Beek, Hamish Bennett, Neil Broom, Brendon Diamanti, Andrew Ellis, Cam Fletcher, Peter Fulton, Roneel Hira, Kyle Jamieson, Tim Johnston, Ryan McCone, Henry Nicholls, Ed Nuttall. One to be added.