William Young has relinquished his role as captain of the Central Districts Stags cricket team after 30 months in the position.
"I just felt that now the time was right for both me and the team to step aside from the captaincy role and allow others to lead the way," said Young, who turns 26 on November 22.
The New Plymouth-born batsman, who has been based in Napier for the past few seasons, revealed in a press statement he had made the decision to stand down at the end of last season after guiding the Stags to their 10th first-class, Plunket Shield glory since their maiden acquisition in 1953-54.
The former New Zealand under-19 captain Young, who had 79 outings as skipper, batted for nearly six hours in the final to post an unbeaten innings last summer to ensure CD were undefeated.
It seemed the perfect way to finish a chapter, said one of the country's top four batsmen of 2017-18, who scored 686 runs from 10 matches at an average of 42.87.
"I took on the captaincy at 22 and I had given captaincy my all since then," said Young, who has helped win the one-day domestic Ford Trophy and shield crowns but got two runners-up in the Burger King Super Smash Twenty20 campaign.
"It's been an absolute pleasure to lead this group of men over the past two and a half seasons, and I'm not ruling out accepting the role again in the future."
He felt new leadership would keep things fresh and foster bringing new ideas to the table.
Young is among several Stags who will miss the early part of the domestic season while on duty with New Zealand A, who jet off to the United Arab Emirates later this week to play a series against Pakistan A.
NZ A will then host India A in a series that ends in mid-December.
Opening batsman Greg Hay and former Black Caps allrounder Doug Bracewell will assume the mantle of captaincy with the Heinrich Malan-coached CD this summer.
"I wish Greg and Doug all the very best in their new roles. I'm really looking forward to playing under them later this summer," said Young, with the shield competition beginning on Tuesday next week before the limited-overs format kicks in from October 24 to December 1.
It will be a proud moment for veteran Hay who will lead the team in his hometown of Nelson when the Stags meet the Canterbury Kings at Saxton Oval in the opening round of the red-ball format.
"Having been in the CDCA system since the under-14s, it's an organisation that's very dear to my heart," the 34-year-old said.
"It's an honour to captain Central. When I look at the list of predecessors, there are many men I know and have played alongside and I have a great deal of respect for them so to join them — I feel very honoured.
"We haven't had too many Nelsonians captaining the Stags through the years either so it will be a nice touch having my first game there as captain."
Hay previously captained CD A, and the Bath Cricket Club in the west of England Premier League in the 2018 Northern Hemisphere season.
Since his 2006-07 debut, the gritty batsman has gained 64 first-class caps for the Central Stags, scoring 4384 runs at 43.40, including 11 first-class centuries and a high score of 202 not out in 2013-14.
His three centuries and five half tons last season helped form the bedrock of the Stags' shield campaign.
He is coming off his most prolific season yet, having scored 786 runs at 60.46 from nine matches to finish as one of New Zealand's top two runscorers last summer, alongside Wellington Firebirds opener Michael Papps (now retired) who made 814 runs in 10 matches at 50.87.
"To have been in good form last season gives me some confidence," he said.
"I'll be in a good frame of mind to lead the guys out there, but each season is completely different and you do have to start again mentally.
"Our mindset isn't that we have to 'defend' the Plunket Shield, it's that we have to go out and win it all over again.
"There's a general acknowledgement that four-day cricket is the hardest format to win. We have shown real desire to stand up and embrace four-day cricket under Youngy, and I want to carry on that good work."
Bracewell has played 35 one-dayers, 30 twenty20s and 50 first-class matches for CD since 2008, between representing his country.
The Taradale CC premier men's club cricketer, who turned 28 last Friday, is embracing the challenge.
"I'm excited and also grateful for the opportunity to captain the team," Bracewell said.
"It will be a different challenge for me taking that role in the Ford Trophy campaign but one I am certainly looking forward to."
The Stags' Super Smash captain for 2018-19 season will be revealed during the season.