William Somerville, the New South Wales (NSW) offspin bowler, will attempt to follow in the footsteps of wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi by attempting to qualify for New Zealand via a new contract with the Auckland Aces.
Somerville, 33, was born in Wellington, and made his first-class debut for Otago before moving to Sydney and performing with distinction for NSW; he was the second recognised spin bowler in NSW after the Test spinner Nathan Lyon. He asked to be released from his contract early to be available for Auckland. Somerville's first-class record reads: 16 matches, 55 wickets at 26.87.
"I appreciate being allowed the opportunity to pursue my professional career in New Zealand," Somerville said. "It has been a tough decision, but one I hope will be best for me personally and of course my family. Everyone in (NSW) has been great to me as a cricketer and more importantly as a colleague and friend. I shall miss them, but leave with very fond memories. It has been a life changing few years for me."
Mark O'Donnell, the Auckland coach, said Somerville came with a recommendation from Bruce Edgar, the Wellington coach. "Bruce is friends of the family and Will was looking to play," O'Donnell said, according to the New Zealand Herald. "Bruce asked if there was any interest. It fits nicely for us in all three formats. We just need a bit of experience going in support of our young seamers. The fact he asked for an early release from his contract (at NSW) just emphasises his desire to play here in New Zealand."
Andrew Jones, the NSW chief executive, said that the state was happy to allow Somerville the chance to pursue international honours across the Tasman. "We would love to have kept Will at NSW, as he is a terrific cricketer and even better bloke," he said. "He proved himself an outstanding first-class spinner every time he had an opportunity with the Blues. However we want all our players to achieve their potential in the game hence we fully support Will's effort to play at the next level. We will all be very proud if and when Will makes his debut for New Zealand."
The now-retired Ronchi, who played four ODIs and two T20Is for Australia in 2008-09 after keeping wicket and batting explosively for Western Australia, took a contract with Wellington in 2011 and went on to play extensively for New Zealand in limited-overs formats.