WELLINGTON - Struggling New Zealand Test openers Peter Fulton and Hamish Rutherford missed out on central contracts as selectors on Thursday named a youth-orientated playing group with an eye on next year's World Cup.
There are six new faces in the 20-man list of players contracted for 2014-15, including all-rounder James Neesham, wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi and pacemen Matt Henry and Adam Milne. Spinners Mark Craig and Ish Sodhi were also given the nod after performing strongly in the recent Test series win over the West Indies. With New Zealand cricket on a high after three consecutive Test series wins, chief selector Bruce Edgar said there was plenty of talent knocking at the door. "Two of those (players) integral to the series win in the West Indies were spinners Ish Sodhi and Mark Craig," he said. "While we accept that Mark and Ish are by no means the finished product, they are promising bowlers that we want to invest time in." Along with openers Fulton and Rutherford, Dean Brownlie, Grant Elliott, Bruce Martin and Doug Bracewell all missed out on contracts.
Martin, Elliott and Brownlie have not played for New Zealand this year, while Bracewell has been eclipsed by emerging talent after being dropped for disciplinary reasons in February. Henry and Milne have performed well when given opportunities in limited overs games and Edgar said the selectors framed the list with next year's World Cup as "the major prize".
New Zealand and Australia will jointly host the tournament in 2015. Injury-plagued veteran spinner Dan Vettori was not on the list of contracted players, although reports said he would be in World Cup consideration if fit.