Mark Gillespie is expected to be the glaring omission when New Zealand Cricket announce their 20 contracted players today.
The Dominion Post understands the rejuvenated Wellington paceman has missed the cut, despite being New Zealand's standout bowler of the test series against South Africa in March.
But Gillespie's rotten luck is fellow Firebird James Franklin's good fortune, with the all-rounder expected to regain a contract after narrowly missing out for the previous two years.
Gillespie has every right to be shaking his head today. The 32-year-old was summoned to the second test side at Tim Southee's expense and ripped through South Africa's top-order in Hamilton, taking 5-59. He then produced his second career-best in as many tests, taking 6-113 in the first innings in Wellington.
Fitness is understood to be the reason for Gillespie's omission. Injury dogged Gillespie in recent seasons and he is currently battling an ankle problem which ruled him out of a fast bowlers' camp in Brisbane.
Still, the contracts are based on the previous year's performances and a player's potential contribution in 2012-13. After his storming finish to the home season, it's difficult to comprehend Gillespie not being rated in the top-20 as he prepares to fly to the West Indies with the test squad next month.
The selection panel was an all-Australian lineup of NZC's director of cricket John Buchanan, selection manager Kim Littlejohn, and current assistant coaches Trent Woodhill and Damien Wright. With coach John Wright preparing for his farewell tour, to the West Indies, his input was understood to be minimal.
Franklin was again hovering on the cusp, but is seen as a key man in the Twenty20 side. The fact it is T20 World Cup year may have helped his cause, even if test cricket is given a higher weighting than limited overs in the ranking process.
Other newcomers are expected to be two South Africans, fast bowler Neil Wagner and wicketkeeper Kruger van Wyk, along with Doug Bracewell and leg-spinner Tarun Nethula.
Bracewell narrowly missed last year's list and will rocket up the charts given his matchwinning qualities, durability and involvement in all three formats. Nethula is yet to play test cricket but with tours to spin-friendly West Indies, India and Sri Lanka coming up, will feature prominently in selection discussions.
Six players who were contracted last year are expected to miss out: Andy McKay, Luke Woodcock, Reece Young, Neil Broom, Hamish Bennett and Jesse Ryder. The latter ruled himself out of contract reckoning last month.
It means a logjam on Wellington's contract list, with only Franklin on the NZC payroll. They'll have to squeeze Gillespie, McKay, Woodcock, Ryder, Jeetan Patel, Grant Elliott, Stephen Murdoch, Harry Boam and Australian import Luke Ronchi into prominent spots, leaving few extra places on their 14-strong list to be finalised next month.
Players on the NZC list are ranked one to 20 and paid annual retainers accordingly. The highest-ranked earns $181,000, plus match payments, while No 20 gets $73,000. The rankings remain confidential, and the contract period begins on August 1.
AT A GLANCE
Possible contract list (in ranking order): Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill, Doug Bracewell, Daniel Vettori, Chris Martin, Tim Southee, Dean Brownlie, Daniel Flynn, BJ Watling, Neil Wagner, Nathan McCullum, Jacob Oram, Kyle Mills, Tarun Nethula, Rob Nicol, Kruger van Wyk, Trent Boult, James Franklin
- © Fairfax NZ News
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