Bennett likely to miss out on cricket contract
OPINION: Canterbury quick Hamish Bennett looks set to be the biggest loser from today's New Zealand Cricket contracted players announcement.
The tall right armer hasn't played anything higher than club cricket since March last year. The Press understands that has cost him his national contract.
With current Black Caps coach John Wright departing after the tour of the West Indies, he had no part in the selection. Instead director of cricket John Buchanan and national selection manager Kim Littlejohn have the final say after the six major association coaches put a list of 25 names forward each.
The decision to snub Bennett is short-sighted and shows the selectors are looking back as much as forward.
Backing an injured player does comes with an element of risk, but Bennett seems at least a calculated one rather than an out-and-out punt.
The other cricketers who have had the major back surgery Bennett had with leading Christchurch surgeon Grahame Inglis have bounced back better and the amount Bennett is working on his recovery suggests he too will be the same.
With his height and pace, the now 25-year-old will likely play a big part in the New Zealand team's quick bowling future, especially as Chris Martin gets closer to retirement. That said, he will now be contracted with Canterbury and if he stays fit will waltz back into a contract next season.
He was also probably victim to the fact the quick bowling stocks look healthier and have more depth than ever.
Martin, Tim Southee, Kyle Mills and Trent Boult are all expected to keep contracts and Doug Bracewell is a shoo-in to earn his first. Bennett was also in contention with Wellington's Andy McKay and Mark Gillespie plus Northern Districts journeyman Brent Arnel.
Gillespie's successful return to the test team against South Africa – which had twice the weighting of the shorter formats in the contract calculations – makes him a worthy contender although Fairfax understands he will be a contentious omission, along with McKay. Another Wellington player James Franklin, who NZC now consider a Twenty20 specialist is tipped to return after surprisingly missing out in the past two seasons.
Tom Latham, Kruger van Wyk and Tarun Nethula are also on the edge while like Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Andrew Ellis and Neil Wagner are all expected to pick up their first national contracts.
Jesse Ryder will not be awarded a contract after making himself unavailable, though it is unclear whether he would have been offered one. Reece Young, Neil Broom and Luke Woodcock will join Bennett on the outer. Contracts are expected to be announced late this morning.
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