The futures of Craig McMillan and Mathew Sinclair will be in the spotlight when the New Zealand Cricket (NZC) contract list is named on Thursday.

McMillan was dropped from the national side following last year's Hadlee-Chappell Trophy and was widely expected to miss the cut when the new contract list is unveiled on Thursday. But the small boundaries and slow pitches of the West Indies, where next year's World Cup is being hosted, are understood to be swaying the selectors towards retaining the talented but inconsistent batsman.

Sinclair was controversially left off the list last year, losing out to less-credentialled players such as James Marshall, Craig Cumming and Michael Papps. He is expected to be offered a contract, although it might not be enough to convince him to remain in New Zealand after the selectors further showed their hands by leaving him out of the tour to South Africa last month.

Lou Vincent was also left out of that tour and yesterday announced a short stint for Worcestershire while Phil Jaques is with Australia A.

"I hope I can make a substantial contribution during my five weeks here, particularly in the Twenty20."

Other features of the list are likely to be the culling of veterans Chris Harris and Paul Wiseman, while Jamie How, Papps and James Marshall could all miss out after failing to convince they have the right technique for international cricket. That would leave a list without specialist test openers, something that isn't going to be greatly needed with the proliferation of ODIs up to and including the World Cup.

The naming will be set against the backdrop of the upcoming tournament and a renegotiated collective agreement between the national body and the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association (NZCPA).

The terms of the new collective have remained a closely-guarded secret with a media blackout during negotiations, although it is considered unlikely there will be any startling revelations.

The NZCPA is likely to have negotiated a slight increase in their share of revenue, much of which will be poured back into player retainers. The Herald on Sunday understands the major associations will contract 12 players rather than the 11 the old collective allowed for, increasing New Zealand's professional player pool from 86 to 92.

As for the central contracts, the top-ranked player currently receives a $125,000 retainer, dropping in $5000 increments until numbers 16 through 20, who each receive $45,000. Under the old collective, players received $6000 per test and $2500 for eachone-dayer. These numbers could be tweaked but again there is not expected to be any seismic shift.

The big winner in the contracts list should be last season's State Shield finalists and State Championship winners Central Districts.

After the disappointment of having just Jacob Oram selected for last year's list, chief executive Blair Furlong hopes to have five spots free this year, with the selections of Ross Taylor, Michael Mason, Oram, How and Sinclair.

"With luck, we will have five and that will free up spots, particularly at the top of the order," Furlong said.

However, apart from Oram, none of the other four are a certain pick. The most interest will, as usual, hang over the selection of Sinclair.

For one, it will take a bit of pride-swallowing on the part of the selection panel to pick him and, two, it will have to be a significantly juicy contract for Sinclair to resist the overtures of South Africa or, it is rumoured, Tasmania.

Furlong said he had been in contact with the luckless batsman and urged him not to make any knee-jerk reactions but "at the end of the day, money makes the world go round".


How they could be ranked

1. Stephen Fleming (c)
2. Daniel Vettori
3. Jacob Oram
4. Shane Bond
5. Nathan Astle
6. Brendon McCullum
7. Scott Styris
8. James Franklin
9. Peter Fulton
10. Kyle Mills
11. Lou Vincent
12. Hamish Marshall
13. Chris Martin
14. Jeetan Patel
15. Ross Taylor
16. Mathew Sinclair
17. Craig McMillan
8. Michael Mason
19. Daryl Tuffey
20. Andre Adams


Chris Harris, Chris Cairns (retired), Michael Papps, Paul Wiseman, James Marshall, Craig Cumming.


Mathew Sinclair, Jeetan Patel, Peter Fulton, Andre Adams, Ross Taylor.