The Central Stags' contracted player roster for the coming season includes two first-time players, ushering in a total of three new professionals from Hawke's Bay and one from Palmerston North.
Manawatū left-arm paceman Ray Toole and Hawke's Bay left-arm off-spinner Jayden Lennox join Brad Schmulian and Bayley Wiggins as new names on the annual roster for 2020-21.
Toole and Lennox both debuted for the Stags during the injury-hit 2019-20 summer and CDCA Manager, High Performance Lance Hamilton said it was pleasing to see two hard-working young bowlers take another step forward in their respective careers.
"Ray came into the squad for the first time in the first-class Plunket Shield late last year as a 22-year-old debutant, away at Bay Oval against an ND team that had Blackcaps Trent Boult, Neil Wagner and BJ Watling.
"It was a baptism of fire, but he acquitted himself well. He got Watling as his maiden wicket and contributed to a hard-fought win for the Stags.
"He has now played 10 matches for us across both the Plunket Shield and Ford Trophy competitions and shapes as a highly promising young player in our pace attack."
Napier-based Lennox, 25, has been at the forefront of Hawke's Bay's spin attack for several seasons and has consistently impressed for CD's A side.
He got his first opportunity for the Stags with the white ball, playing four matches in last season's Ford Trophy campaign after having been named - alongside fellow List A debutant Toole - for the opening match of the one-day summer.
In February, Lennox was also called into the Plunket Shield squad for the first time, and remains poised to make his first-class debut after having run the drinks in that match at McLean Park.
"With Ajaz Patel now contracted by NZC and likely to be away with the Blackcaps more frequently, Jayden shores up the Stags' spin-bowling depth", said Hamilton.
"He came in as a like-for-like replacement for Ajaz last summer and had earned that selection through his consistent performances."
Even with the quartet of newly minted contractees, the Stags' roster packs plenty of experience. No fewer than seven of the 16 contracted players have represented the Blackcaps while Greg Hay and Dane Cleaver have represented New Zealand A.
The Stags are back together in training this week to begin the build-up for the 2020-21 season, expected to start in October with the opening round of the first-class Plunket Shield.
The contract period begins on September 1. The 2020-21 Plunket Shield, Ford Trophy and Dream11 Super Smash schedules will be announced by NZC in the coming months.
2020/21 Contracted Squad
Doug Bracewell — Hawke's Bay
Tom Bruce — Taranaki
Josh Clarkson — Nelson
Dane Cleaver — Manawatū
Greg Hay — Nelson
Jayden Lennox* — Hawke's Bay
Christian Leopard — Hawke's Bay
Adam Milne — Manawatū
Seth Rance — Wairarapa
Brad Schmulian** — Hawke's Bay
Ben Smith — Whanganui
Blair Tickner — Hawke's Bay
Ray Toole* — Manawatū
Ben Wheeler — Marlborough
Bayley Wiggins* — Hawke's Bay
George Worker — Manawatū
* First CDCA contract
** First full-season CDCA contract