The New Zealand season gets into full swing next week with a star-studded start to the Plunket Shield, and the arrival of England ahead of their T20I and Test series.
With 25 players having completed a T20 training camp in Christchurch, the focus will now switch back to domestic action with the Plunket Shield starting on Monday. All New Zealand’s contracted players who are fit will be available for the opening round of matches, with those not involved in the T20I series against England likely to have another round or two before the Tests begin.
That means Northern Districts will be able to call on their plethora of New Zealand names for the match against Canterbury, headed by Kane Williamson and including Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Neil Wagner and BJ Watling.
In turn, Canterbury can look forward to having Todd Astle, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls in their ranks.
The defending champions Central Districts have Ross Taylor but will be without fellow contracted batsman Will Young – who stood out during the pre-World Cup camp against Australia in Brisbane with scores of 60, 130 and 111 – as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery.
Central Districts, who also have Ajaz Patel, Seth Rance and George Worker, begin their campaign against Auckland who have Martin Guptill and Jeet Raval in the top order. Lockie Ferguson continues to recover from the broken thumb he picked up in Sri Lanka but is on track for the T20Is against England.
In the other match of the opening round Wellington host Otago. The home side includes Tom Blundell and Jimmy Neesham while there will be continued interest in Devon Conway, the South Africa-born batsman who qualifies for New Zealand next September and is tipped for an international future.
Otago do not have any centrally contracted players in their squad but can call on experienced batsmen Neil Broom and Hamish Rutherford along with offspinner Mark Craig.
The Plunket Shield season is split into two parts with three rounds over the next three weeks before the limited-overs season takes over with the one-day competition and T20 Super Smash. First-class cricket then resumes in late February, around the time when New Zealand will be playing a two-Test series against India.
The New Zealand Test side is currently very settled and most of the starting XI to face England next month can be inked in now with probably the bowling combination the only area to be finalised barring any injuries.
Auckland Finn Allen, Corey Anderson, Graeme Beghin, Jamie Brown, Craig Cachopa, Mark Chapman, Louis Delport, Danru Ferns, Ben Horne, Kyle Jamieson, Ben Lister, Matt McEwan, Robbie O’Donnell, Glenn Phillips, Sean Solia, Will Somerville NZ contracts Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Jeet Raval
Northern Districts James Baker, Peter Bocock, Dean Brownlie, Joe Carter, Henry Cooper, Anton Devcich, Matthew Fisher, Daniel Flynn, Zak Gibson, Brett Hampton, Scott Kuggeleijn, Daryl Mitchell, Bharat Popli, Brett Randell, Tim Seifert, Josef Walker NZ contracts Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson
Central Districts Doug Bracewell, Tom Bruce, Josh Clarkson, Dane Cleaver, Greg Hay, Christian Leopard, Adam Milne, Ajaz Patel, Willem Ludick, Seth Rance, Bevan Small, Ben Smith, Blair Tickner, Ben Wheeler, George Worker NZ contracts Ross Taylor, Will Young.
Wellington Hamish Bennett, Jakob Bhula, Michael Bracewell, Fraser Colson, Devon Conway, Andrew Fletcher, Jamie Gibson, Lauchie Johns, Iain McPeake, Ollie Newton, Malcolm Nofal, Jeetan Patel, Rachin Ravindra, Ben Sears, Logan van Beek, Peter Younghusband NZ contracts Tom Blundell, Jimmy Neesham
Canterbury Chad Bowes, Jack Boyle, Leo Carter, Blake Coburn, Andrew Ellis, Cameron Fletcher, Andrew Hazeldine, Jackson Latham, Ken McClure, Cole McConchie, Stephen Murdoch, Ed Nuttall, Fraser Sheat, Henry Shipley, Will Williams, Theo van Woerkom NZ contracts Todd Astle, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls
Otago Matt Bacon, Neil Broom, Max Chu, Mark Craig, Jacob Duffy, Josh Finnie, Dean Foxcroft, Cam Hawkins, Nick Kelly, Anaru Kitchen, Dale Phillips, Michael Rae, Mitch Renwick, Michael Rippon, Hamish Rutherford, Nathan Smith.