Sams takes T20 route as Blues confirm contract list

Allrounder joins Kane Richardson in joining global T20 circuit as NSW hand deals to Chris Green and Jackson Bird

Daniel Sams is the second Australian white-ball representative to elect not to take up a state contract for the 2023-24 season as New South Wales confirmed the allrounder will instead pursue opportunities on the global T20 circuit.

Sams played five of the Blues' six Marsh One-Day Cup matches last season but hasn't featured in red-ball cricket since October 2018.

The 30-year-old left-armer joins Kane Richardson in exploring opportunities with domestic T20 franchises around the world after the former South Australian turned Queensland quick was released from the Bulls squad last Friday.

Sams has represented Australia 10 times in the shortest format, including three appearances in the lead up to last year's T20 World Cup, and is currently with Indian Premier League franchise Lucknow Super Giants but is yet to play a game this season. 

He will again feature for Essex in England's T20 Blast this year and Trent Rockets in the Hundred.

In case you don't know me: Daniel Sams

Star T20 off-spinning allrounder Chris Green has however earned his first full state contract, with NSW today announcing their 25-player squad for the 2023-24 summer.

Green, who held a Blues rookie contract in 2016-17, nine-Test seamer Jackson Bird and Australia Under-19 captain Joel Davies – the younger brother of emerging Blues batter Ollie – are the key inclusions, with Blake Macdonald and Ross Pawson also earning deals for 2023-24.

Sydney Thunder star Green only made his first-class debut last November as an uncontracted player but emerged to be the Blues' most consistent performer, winning their Marsh Sheffield Shield player of the season award with 20 wickets and 290 runs from six matches.

The squad, which will be looking to rebound from a disappointing 2022-23 campaign, will be led by newly appointed master coach Greg Shipperd, also includes eight Cricket Australia centrally contracted players – Test and ODI skipper Pat Cummins, Sean Abbott, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner and Adam Zampa.

November: Green's dream debut capped off with five-wicket haul

Alongside Sams, Trent Copeland (retired), Mickey Edwards (Yorkshire) and Lachlan Hearne (delisted), are the players to drop off the contract list from last season.

But Shipperd said the door would never be shut for anyone with Sams's talent.

"Both groups arrived at a positive resolution," Shipperd said on Monday.

"When he's in the in the state, he will still be invited to train and come along and participate in our white-ball program.

"We've encouraged his involvement in our program going forward. If he fits us and we fit him, then he will be available for selection."

Rookie Liam Doddrell missed out with the number of contracts available reduced under the new Memorandum of Understanding signed between CA and the players' union last month.

Greg Mail, Cricket NSW Chief of Cricket Performance, said Doddrell was unlucky to miss out but remained part of the state's plans going forward.

"With the additions of Jackson (Bird) and Chris (Green) we get some experience from guys with well documented credentials," he said.

"Both Blake (Macdonald) and Ross (Pawson) have deserved their contracts through sheer weight of runs and wickets at Premier Cricket and second XI level. Their contracts show that when players consistently perform at that level, we will look at those performances positively.

"I'm looking forward to building the coaching team around Greg and working closely with him.

"No one here is happy with our recent performances, and we are determined to do what it takes to improve."

In another change at the Blues ahead of next season, it was revealed on Sunday that Mail would lead the NSW men's program as current Head of Male Elite Cricket Michael Klinger turns his focus to T20 cricket with the Sydney Sixers and Sydney Thunder in the KFC BBL.

NSW said Klinger will also have an increased workload with the Washington Freedom franchise in the United States' inaugural Major League Cricket season.

Bird returns to the state he grew up in on a two-year contract and will be in line to make his NSW senior debut later this year after a decorated 12-season career with Tasmania where he is almost 100 clear of Ben Hilfenhaus (262) as the Tigers' leading Sheffield Shield wicket-taker with 350 victims.

The veteran right-armer is also the Shield's 10th most prolific bowler of all time and is the competition's most prolific bowler still playing.

"Speaking to 'Shippy' (Shipperd) quite a bit over the last couple of months, he sees me coming in and playing that senior playing role and helping the young guys," Bird said last week.

"I'd like to get into coaching after I finish playing cricket so I think this gives me a great opportunity to work with 'Shippy' and hopefully help some of the young guys along the way as well.

"They didn't have their best year last year but I guess the way cricket NSW is there's never a shortage of talent so that strong season that you always see them have is just around the corner."

Macdonald, who forced his way into the Blues line up for the final Shield game of the season where he impressed with 61 in the second innings, has earned his first state contract on the back of 177 not out against the touring West Indians in Canberra last November and 327 second XI runs at 54.50 last season.

Pawson, who debuted for the Thunder in their BBL|12 Eliminator final against Brisbane Heat in January, has also earned his first NSW deal after several strong seasons at Premier Cricket and second XI level, which included 60 wickets at 15.97 for Northern District in 2022-23.

And Joel Davies, who turned heads during the last summer's Big Bash with his dazzling fielding efforts for the Thunder and also an incredible 185no off 124 balls with 11 sixes for NSW Metro at the U19 National Championships last December, has earned a two-year rookie contract.

Opening batter Blake Nikitaras has been upgraded to a full contract.

The Blues will begin pre-season training at their Cricket Central facility at Sydney Olympic Park next month.

NSW Blues 2023-24 squad: Sean Abbott*, Jackson Bird, Pat Cummins*, Oliver Davies, Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Matthew Gilkes, Chris Green, Ryan Hackney, Ryan Hadley, Liam Hatcher, Josh Hazlewood*, Moises Henriques, Baxter Holt, Daniel Hughes, Hayden Kerr, Nathan Lyon*, Blake Macdonald, Blake Nikitaras, Kurtis Patterson, Ross Pawson, Jason Sangha, Tanveer Sangha, Steve Smith*, Mitchell Starc*, Chris Tremain, David Warner*, Adam Zampa*. Rookies: Joel Davies, Jack Nisbet, Will Salzmann, Lachlan Shaw, Hunar Verma

* Cricket Australia contract

Ins: Jackson Bird, Joel Davies, Chris Green, Blake Macdonald, Ross Pawson. Outs: Trent Copeland, Liam Doddrell, Mickey Edwards, Lachlan Hearne, Daniel Sams