Astle gets first New Zealand contract
Todd Astle has won a New Zealand contract for the first time, as the only newcomer to the Black Caps group.
The Canterbury spinner is finally a contracted player, a dozen years since he made his first-class debut.
The Black Caps have reduced their contracted list by one to 20, with Otago pair Jimmy Neesham and Neil Broom both missing out.
Between Todd, Ish and Mitchell our spin bowling stocks have probably never looked better.Gavin Larsen
The new contracts start from 1st August and 31-year-old Astle has earned his with form at domestic and international level.
He played a key role in the Black Caps' day-night Test victory over England at Eden Park and has been on the winning side in his last three Tests.
Astle is the third spinner in the top 20 along with Mitchell Santner and Ish Sodhi.
Selector Gavin Larsen said of Larsen, who along with his fellow legspinner Sodhi is likely to be challenging for the second spinner role: "Todd's progress over the past 12 months has been exciting to see. When fit, he made the most of his opportunities in both test and ODI cricket.
"We have a big summer ahead; we know Todd performs well in New Zealand conditions, and we also have a spin-friendly tour against Pakistan coming up. Between Todd, Ish and Mitchell our spin bowling stocks have probably never looked better."
All-rounder Neesham last played an international at the Champions Trophy last June and was dropped by Otago at one stage last summer.
Broom has barely been sighted since scores of six and two in ODIs against West Indies in December.
All-rounder Corey Anderson retained his contract despite not playing for the Black Caps since the Champions Trophy as he underwent back surgery.
New Zealand are 9/1 to win the 2019 Cricket World Cup.
The Black Caps are 6/1 to win the 2020 Twenty20 World Cup.
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