Scott Styris ponders Northern Knights future
Scott Styris will decide after the Champions League whether he plays another Twenty20 campaign for Northern Districts.
The former Black Cap was yesterday left off ND's list of contracted players for the 2014-15 season, as he preferred to not seek a contract and leave some options open should he put cricket to one side.
At 39 years old the veteran all-rounder doesn't have many more playing days in him, but is currently turning out for Leicestershire in England's T20 Blast.
Knights coach James Pamment said Styris would play at the Champions League and they would come to a decision on his future at the completion of that tournament.
"We've agreed to have that discussion," Pamment said.
"So it could be a grandstand fare[well] and it could be the end of the road, it could be retirement. But hey, if he enjoys that tournament and does well, then we might arrange to employ Scott on a professional basis like we do with any other overseas player that comes to play short-form cricket."
Pamment said that with Styris the age he was he had earned the right to make a late call on his future, and that he may have other things lined up instead.
"We saw him in the media last year and he did a very good job on commentary and maybe he's heading down that road, with the World Cup coming up and things like that," Pamment said.
In a similar situation to Styris is Daniel Vettori, who has again chosen not to be contracted nationally or domestically. He is instead on the books of the Brisbane Heat but will again, like last summer, turn out for ND when he can, possibly in any of the three formats.
"He's obviously going with us to Champions League and once we get back from Champions League he'll play for us whenever it works for the both of us," Pamment said.
With a combined age of 74 and the experience of 300-plus Twenty20 games under their belts, Pamment said Styris and Vettori were great assets to call on.
"Definitely. Their value last year was immense, especially with a young group."
That young group is even more accentuated this season, with ND yesterday handing first-time contracts to all-rounder Mitchell Santner and batsmen Joe Carter and Bharat Popli, making it 13 of their 14 players that are born and bred in the ND region.
"We haven't been in an open market searching for players, we're very happy with what we've got," Pamment said.
"We're very fortunate, obviously, to have six international players [BJ Watling, Corey Anderson, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Kane Williamson], plus Dan Vettori, and it allows us to go deep into our squad. So [we're] obviously delighted for the young players who have been acknowledged."
On being recalled to the Knights last summer, Santner, 22, scored two fifties and a hundred in averaging 39.33 in the Plunket Shield, while his left-arm spin was excellent in the one-day competition, with nine wickets at an average of 25 at an economy rate of 3.75.
Carter, 21, had a promising debut season, finishing with ND's highest batting average in the Plunket Shield - 44.93 - with six half centuries in his 16 innings, while Popli played the back-half of the campaign and averaged 35.57.
The exception to the local talent is Dean Brownlie, who joins from Canterbury as he pushes for a return to the Black Caps.
"He's seen the light, like most people, and he wants to live at the Mount," Pamment quipped. "He's obviously very friendly with a number of our Black Caps players and I think he just wanted to extend that relationship to a playing relationship."
Brownlie, who turns 30 next week and enjoyed a decent run-scoring season last summer, last played for New Zealand in May 2013, but is now looking to reinvent himself as an opener, with Pamment confirming he will be used at the top, at least in the four-day format.
The six major associations can name nine to 14 players in the first round of contracting, with their allotment of 15 to be complete after the second round of contracts are offered on August 8.
Pamment confirmed their final spot will go to someone who is "already heavily involved" in their setup as they won't be looking further afield.
Along with Sodhi and Styris, the other names missing from ND's list from last season are seamer Tony Goodin and wicketkeeper Cameron Fletcher, with the latter picked up by Canterbury.
That means there's no wicketkeeper in ND's 14. However, Pamment said Rory Christopherson, Tim Seifert, Ben Horne and Peter Bocock would all be given a chance, while Watling may be available here and there between international commitments.
AT A GLANCE
Northern Districts 2014-15 contracted players (one to be added on August 8): Graeme Aldridge, Jimmy Baker, Jono Boult, Dean Brownlie, Joe Carter, Anton Devcich, Daniel Flynn, Jono Hickey, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Bharat Popli, Mitchell Santner, Anurag Verma, Brad Wilson