U19 star Muhammad Abbas has been awarded his first Firebirds contract, with upcoming players Gareth Severin, Nick Greenwood, and James Hartshorn also joining the contract list.
All four new Firebirds are young and promising, with each of the four coming through Cricket Wellington’s pathways system, representing the region in either age-level competitions or with the riders&elephants Provincial A side.
Making his First Class debut on February 25th 2023, Muhammad Abbas has burst onto the scene, amassing three fifties and his maiden Firebirds century in four Plunket Shield games at an average north of 50.
Being able to contribute with bat and ball will see Abbas as a key part of the Firebirds middle order as he looks to continue building on his early success at the domestic level. Abbas also made a cameo for New Zealand A at the end of 2022/23, playing in a four-day match against Australia A.
Director of Cricket, Bruce Edgar, is excited to have Abbas in the team.
“Muhammad has shown a lot of maturity in his short time with the Firebirds. He has a chance to be a special player for us and potentially for New Zealand in the future” - Bruce Edgar
Gareth Severin was another late-season addition for the Firebirds, coming off an impressive campaign in the ROBLAWMAX Premier Men’s Grade throughout 2022/23. Playing three Plunket Shield matches in March, Severin averaged 49 for the Firebirds, along with a mammoth innings of 196 against Northern Districts.
Profiling as a powerful top-order bat, Severin was the Arthur Dick award recipient in 2023 for most runs in the Premier Men’s Grade, earned with 703 runs in the 2022/23 season at an average of 70.33.
The 23-year-old’s first Firebirds contract will see him get more opportunities to build his career at the domestic level.
Nick Greenwood has earned a Firebirds contract on the back of a couple of strong batting seasons, both for Taita in Wellington and on international duty with Jersey.
Greenwood represents the island of Jersey internationally, featuring three centuries and six half-centuries in the one-day format.
Adding three young promising batsmen to the roster is an exciting prospect for the Firebirds, which Edgar says can go a long way for this team.
“Being able to add three quality young batsmen to this lineup should pay dividends for us, both this season and in the future. We believe all three of these batsmen can be top contributors for us across formats”, Edgar said.
Pace bowler James Hartshorn has been around the Firebirds for a few seasons, debuting with the team in 2020.
The addition of Hartshorn to the contract list will add some more pace to a bowling unit that also features the likes of Sears and Milne.
Hartshorn took nine wickets across four First Class appearances for the club in 2022/23 and has continued to impress the coaching staff with his ongoing improvements.
“We’re excited to have James on contract for the upcoming season. He’s a fantastic young pace bowler with the tools to continue to build on his quality start with us,” said Edgar.
The remainder of the Firebirds contract list is largely the same as last summer including seven other players who have come through the Cricket Wellington pathway system.
Rachin Ravindra and Ben Sears bring BLACKCAPS experience to the Firebirds-contracted group, with Ravindra having played a big role in recent times for the New Zealand side.
Logan van Beek has had a big winter playing for The Netherlands to date and returns to the Firebirds to be a key contributor with both bat and ball.
Nick Kelly, Tim Robinson, Troy Johnson, and Callum McLachlan return to the batting ranks, combining with the newly contracted players to form a batting unit with plenty of skill and depth.
Nathan Smith, along with Muhammad Abbas and van Beek are the key all-rounders for this Firebirds side, making up a talented middle order.
Michael Snedden and Iain McPeake are the other contracted bowlers, joining forces with Sears and Hartshorn to make up the pace bowling unit, while Peter Younghusband adds to the spin bowling line-up with Rachin Ravindra.
Of the players contracted in the previous season Luke Georgeson, Devan Vishvaka and Jakob Bhula have not been offered new contracts, bowler Adam Milne has been promoted to a central BLACKCAPS contract, and Finn Allen has moved back to Auckland.
Ollie Newton has opted not to take up a domestic contract with Wellington but will be available to play in the Ford Trophy and Super Smash formats.
The sixteenth contracted Firebird will be named in the second round of announcements.
The 2023/24 Wellington Firebirds with First-Round Contracts are: