Te Awamutu pace bowler Zak Gibson is among the first 14 players to secure Northern Districts cricket contracts for the 2017-18 season.

Gibson (20) made his first class debut for ND against Central Districts in March, 2016.

"We consider Zak made real progress last season, his first as a professional cricketer," ND chairman of selectors Pat Malcon told the Courier.

"He played in all three formats and was especially effective in the Ford Trophy one-day competition where he took nine wickets and had one of our best economy rates.

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"He is working on some minor technical improvements that should help him generate more pace and we look forward to his continued progress in the 2017/18 season."

Gibson has taken nine wickets in six first class matches, a further nine wickets at an average of 27.88 runs per scalp in seven Listed A games, and three wickets in four T20 matches at an average of 27.00.

Former Te Awamutu College teacher Brent Arnel is returning to ND after a three year stint playing for Wellington.

Malcon is optimistic that they have selected the right mix of youth and experience within the line-up, with Arnel adding strength to their bowling attack.

"Brent had an outstanding season for Wellington last year and brings added experience to our pace bowling attack," says Malcon.

"We will be calling on his leadership and maturity to mentor our younger pace bowlers - he is a valuable acquisition for all formats of the game."

Northland's Brent Randell is new to the contracted list. The former New Zealand Under 19 representative debuted for ND in the Ford Trophy against Canterbury in January with figures of 4/34.

ND senior players Daniel Flynn and Anton Devcich are back in the fold having suffered hip and leg injuries last season. Malcon is positive that they will be back to full fitness in time for the Summer.

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"Daniel and Anton are showing good signs of recovery from their injury concerns last season. We have had very good reports and all is looking well."

Northern Districts' contracted list for 2017-18:
Brent Arnel, James Baker (Hamilton), Dean Brownlie (Bay of Plenty), Anton Devcich (Hamilton), Daniel Flynn (Bay of Plenty), Zak Gibson (Waikato Valley), Brett Hampton (Bay of Plenty), Nick Kelly (Counties Manukau), Scott Kuggeleijn (Hamilton), Daryl Mitchell (Hamilton), Bharat Popli (Bay of Plenty), Brett Randell (Northland), Tim Seifert (Waikato Valley), Josef Walker (Hamilton).

The final 15th contract will be announced in the coming weeks.