• Hawke’s Bay pace bowler earns Central Stags contract

Hawke’s Bay pace bowler earns Central Stags contract

A Hawke’s Bay pace bowler has earned a contract with the Central Stags.

Liam Dudding and Manawatū wicketkeeper-batsman Ma’ara Ave take the number of players contracted by Central Districts to the maximum of 16 after the pair was offered and accepted contracts in the second round of annual negotiations.

The other 14 were announced last month.

Both players have represented the Stags in red-ball and white-ball formats in recent seasons, and have been pushing hard for a spot in the contracted squad through their performances for Central Districts A and their respective Districts.

Tall right-armer Dudding, 28, has played a smattering of five first-class Plunket Shield matches since his debut in March 2016, along with six Ford Trophy one-dayers for the team.

A prolific wicket-taker for Hawke’s Bay, his most recent first-class appearance saw him slotting in to open the attack alongside Ray Toole in last summer’s Plunket Shield match against Canterbury at Palmerston North.

Dudding said it was a special moment to receive a maiden pro contract to sign.

“It means a lot, and my family are pretty excited for me."

“I’m a player who didn’t play any sort of age-group cricket when I was younger, either at CD or District level. My first rep game was actually for Horowhenua-Kāpiti at the Chapple Cup. Finally, I got a chance for Hawke’s Bay, and from there I’ve worked hard towards getting more opportunities to better my cricket.

“Now I’m looking forward to being able to train full-time, and to be around the Stags’ training group throughout the whole season which I think will do my cricket a world of good,” Dudding said.

"Previously I’ve worked full-time over the summer, gyming in the mornings and cricket in the evenings so to be in a position to be able to commit myself fully to training, being around the squad and coaching staff, as well as to have the extra time to recover and manage my body, is exciting.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing what I can do.”

Central Stags Head Coach Rob Walter said it was exciting to have now finalised the strong roster for the forthcoming season.

“It’s great to be able to offer our last two contracted spots to two players who have really cut their teeth in the CD system and it’s just reward for their performances in Central Districts A and Hawke Cup cricket.

“It’s exciting that they will now get the opportunity to invest in their games full-time, and hopefully this will put them in a position to deliver some match-winning performances for the Stags in the coming season.”

Domestic schedules are yet to be released for the coming summer but are likely to begin in October with the first rounds of the traditional first-class Plunket Shield.

Players formally commence their contractual period on 1 September 2022, going through until the close of the season in April 2023.