The SKYCITY Northern Knights will have a fresh energy about them next summer with exciting allrounder Scott Kuggeleijn returning to Northern Districts.
Born and raised in Hamilton and a product of Northern Districts' development programme, two seasons ago the 21-year-old headed to Wellington to represent the Firebirds, but speaking in Hamilton today Kuggeleijn said he is delighted his future now lies with his home association.
"Northern Districts has always been home for me and I'm thrilled to have been offered an opportunity to join the team I grew up watching and hoping I'd play for. While I've really enjoyed my start with the Firebirds, it's the perfect timing to close that chapter and step up for the Knights."
New SKYCITY Northern Knights Head Coach James Pamment, who previously coached the right-arm speedster and blossoming batsman at under-19 level, is "very excited" to have the rising star back in the fold.
Pamment: "Scott's a highly promising young cricketer with a lot of ability. His character and brutal honesty about his own performances has also made a strong impression on me - he's a young player who just wants to get better and we're confident we will provide the environment in which he will flourish."
Kuggeleijn brings yet more verve to an exceptional new generation of ND cricketers that includes batsman of the year Daryl Mitchell and New Zealand Under-19 graduates Ish Sodhi, Cameron Fletcher, Corey Anderson, Anurag Verma and Jono Hickey - all of whom are 22 or younger.
His acquisition also adds a timely energetic dynamic to the Knights' pace attack while simultaneously strengthening the lower order. Departed paceman Brent Arnel (who has joined the Firebirds) was not known for his batting prowess, but after just 16 games Kuggeleijn is already averaging over 30 in first-class cricket and turned heads last season with a match-winning unbeaten 142 against the Central Stags - his maiden first-class century.
He has starred with the ball, too, taking a maiden first-class five-for of 5/72 among his 42 Plunket Shield wickets and destroying the Canterbury Wizards with a standout one-day Ford Trophy bag of 5-24 in March.
Northern Districts CEO Peter Roach noted that Kuggeleijn's inclusion in New Zealand Cricket's 2013 elite winter training squad (alongside Anderson, Mitchell and Sodhi) is indicative of his strong potential.
"Northern Districts Cricket is about producing BLACKCAPS. We are consistently supplying more players to international cricket than any other region in New Zealand and we're confident that in Scott we have another with the potential to progress to that level at some point in the future. He's a keen and competitive young man who will go from strength to strength immersed in our elite competitive environment."
The signing continues a Northern Districts family connection: Kuggeleijn is the son of Northern Districts offspinning allrounder Chris Kuggeleijn, who represented New Zealand in test and one-day cricket in the late 1980s, while his uncle, John Kuggeleijn, represented Franklin.
Northern Districts' contracted players (first round) for the 2013/14 season will be announced in July.