South Australia pair Adam Zampa and Callum Ferguson have re-signed with the West End Redbacks on multi-year deals.
Leg-spinner Zampa committed to the state for another two seasons, while Neil Dansie Medal winner for South Australia’s Player of the Year Ferguson has signed an extension to his existing contract which will see him remain at Adelaide Oval until the end of the 2017-18 season.
The Redbacks have also invested in local talent, with batsmen Alex Ross and Jake Lehmann upgraded from the rookie list and local paceman Nick Benton earning his first Redbacks contract.
Ross was the Redbacks’ most consistent performer throughout the Matador One-Day Cup with 212 runs at an average of 35.33, while Lehmann – the son of former Australia batsman and current national coach Darren – rewarded selectors with a promising first-class debut season, securing 50s in his opening two first-class matches.
After several years on the Emerging Redbacks list, Benton was a stand-out in his first-class debut in the Redbacks’ final match of last season, claiming four key wickets as well as 33 not out with the bat against Queensland.
Harry Nielsen – son of former Australia coach and current SACA General Manager High Performance Tim Nielsen – and Cameron Valente have received rookie contracts following strong performances in the Toyota’s Futures League.
A previous Australia U-19 representative, Valente impressed with the ball last summer in both grade cricket and the Toyota Futures League, while Emerging Redback Nielsen has been selected as a wicketkeeping apprentice to Tim Ludeman.
Nielsen, 19, made the most of a last minute call-up to a Cricket Australia XI side against India last November, scoring 43 off 40 balls.
"It is fantastic to have Adam and Callum commit to the long-term vision we have for the Redbacks," said Tim Nielsen.
"Both players continue to demonstrate a desire to improve and remain on the radar of national selectors after being selected in the Australia A squad along with Travis Head.
"I have no doubt they will continue to make an impact next summer."
Nielsen believes consistency is key for the Redbacks as the SACA continues to gamble on its youth.
"Appointing Travis Head as captain has clearly displayed a will to develop the Redbacks from the leadership positions down," he added.
"Kelvin Smith, Alex Gregory, Tom Andrews and Cameron Valente have been important members of the Australia Under-19 team over the last few years and it is brilliant to see these players continue to push for senior selection.
"It is equally important to see Jake Lehmann, Alex Ross and Nick Benton earn their opportunities following a number of outstanding seasons in the West End Premier League and they have thrived when given their chances with the Redbacks last season.
"If we are serious about sustained success at the Redbacks, we need to continue to give these players the opportunities that they have earned while surrounding them with a stable senior playing group and a high performance structure which will drive their development."
Meanwhile, the Redbacks’ search for a new coach continues, with advertisements being placed last week.
A selection panel, including Australian great Adam Gilchrist and AFL coaching legend David Parkin, SACA CE Keith Bradshaw and Nielsen, has been convened to evaluate the applicants.
West End Redbacks final squad, 2015-16
Travis Head (c), Nick Benton, Tom Cooper, Mark Cosgrove, Callum Ferguson, Jake Lehmann, Tim Ludeman, Joe Mennie, Gary Putland, Sam Raphael, Alex Ross, Kane Richardson, Chadd Sayers, Kelvin Smith, Dan Worrall, Adam Zampa. Rookies: Tom Andrews, Alex Gregory, Harry Nielsen, Nick Winter, Cameron Valente. Upgraded: Jake Lehmann, Alex Ross
In: Nick Benton, Harry Nielsen (rookie), Cameron Valente (rookie)
Out: Johan Botha, Trent Lawford, Andrew McDonald