New Zealand Cricket (NZC), on Friday, have announced the central contracts for the upcoming 2022-23 season. Left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel has been named in the list, alongside a maiden call-up for all-rounder Michael Bracewell.

In June last year, Ajaz assisted the Black Caps to clinch a rare Test series victory over England at Edgbaston before finishing the five-match T20 leg against Bangladesh in September as the leading wicket-taker. However, his most memorable performance came against India in the second Test in Mumbai in December, when he claimed all 10 first-innings wickets and finished with 14 overall in the match.

Similarly, Bracewell recently came into the limelight after being picked in the New Zealand Test squad for the England tour. He made his national debut in March against the Netherlands, where he was also adjudged the Super Smash Player of the Year.

Meanwhile, senior all-rounder Jimmy Neesham has been left out of the 20-player shortlist. Notably, the Auckland-born made his last Test appearance in 2017 and has only played nine T20Is over the last 12 months, including the World Cup.

“The busy international calendar means we’re calling on a wider base of talent these days and the likes of Michael Bracewell is testament to the depth of that talent. Michael’s been consistently performing on the domestic circuit for seasons now, and we certainly see him as an international prospect in all three formats,” said head coach Gary Stead in a statement.

“It’s great to see Ajaz back on the list after narrowly missing out last season. His value as our leading red-ball spinner is clear, and we’re excited to see the role he could play in the Test team going forward,” he added.

Players offered central contracts for 2022-23 season:

Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Michael Bracewell, Devon Conway, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Kane Williamson, Will Young

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