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Cowan, Bailey miss out on Australia contracts

Brydon Coverdale

June 22, 2012

Comments: 60 | Text size: A | A

George Bailey brings up his fifty, West Indies v Australia, 3rd ODI, St Vincent, March 20, 2012
George Bailey is Australia's Twenty20 captain but was not given a central contract © AFP
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Ed Cowan, the incumbent Test opener, and Australia's Twenty20 captain George Bailey, have missed out on national deals as part of a major reduction of Cricket Australia's contract list. However, the selectors have found room in the 17-man group for Mitchell Johnson, despite his disappointing and injury-affected year, and the limited-overs specialists Xavier Doherty and David Hussey, neither of whom are likely to be in serious contention for the Test side during the coming year.

The signing of a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) on Friday allowed the contract list to be finalised, and the most significant feature was the slashing of the number of contracts. Last year, 25 contracts were handed out but a reduction in that number was a key recommendation of the Argus report into Australia's performance.

David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade and Nathan Lyon have all been added to the list from outside last year's initial 25, while a host of players have not had their contracts renewed. The veteran fast bowler Brett Lee is gone from the list, although he remains in Australia's limited-overs plans and is part of the one-day squad currently in England, while the promising young batsman Usman Khawaja was also omitted.

The offspinners Jason Krejza and Nathan Hauritz, the wicketkeeper Tim Paine and the batsman Callum Ferguson were all dropped after not playing a match for Australia during the last contract period. The opener Phillip Hughes, batsmen Shaun Marsh and Cameron White, allrounders John Hastings and Steven Smith, and fast bowler Doug Bollinger have also been axed after slipping significantly in the pecking order.

There was no room for Peter Forrest, the Queensland batsman, who made a promising start to his international career during the summer, nor for the seamer Clint McKay, who played 16 matches for Australia in the shorter formats over the past year. The allrounder Daniel Christian played 17 games for Australia during the last contract period but did not make the cut.

One of the most notable features of the contract list was the imbalance between batting and bowling, with only six specialist batsmen handed deals: Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Shane Watson and David Warner. Cricket Australia's chief executive, James Sutherland, said the disproportionate numbers were likely to be due to the selection panel's uncertainty over the make-up of their preferred batting group, beyond the core players.

"My sense is that the jury's out to some extent on the batting side of things," Sutherland said. "We will go into international cricket matches with a certain amount of batsmen to do the job. But there is probably some uncertainty in the selectors' eyes about the exact make-up of the team in Tests and one-dayers and Twenty20s going forward. The future will decide that."

The most surprising omissions were those of Cowan and Bailey. Cowan has played Australia's past seven Tests and is expected to retain his position at least for the initial Tests of Australia's home summer against South Africa in 2012-13. But while his form has been encouraging he is yet to provide the kind of big score that could have swayed the chairman of selectors John Inverarity and his panel to hand him a deal.

Bailey will captain Australia at the ICC World Twenty20 in September but he will likely do so as a player contracted to Tasmania rather than Australia. Bailey has a chance to hold down a one-day international position during the ongoing tour of England and Ireland, and there is a strong possibility he could be upgraded to a national contract before the World T20.

To be upgraded from outside the initial contract list, a player must accumulate 12 points based on how many matches they play for Australia - Tests are worth five points each, ODIs are worth two and T20 internationals are worth one. The system means that should Cowan play three Tests during the summer he will be given a mid-season national contract, while Bailey and other players on the fringes have the chance to gain deals throughout the year.

"There is a significant provision for upgrades," Sutherland said. "In the past there have been some contracts that have been provided at the start of the period prematurely, and players haven't necessarily played the requisite number of matches during the course of that contract year. This remodelling doesn't in any way take away the right of a player to be upgraded to a contract if they play the right number of matches. There's a provision for about 13 additional contracts to be upgraded during the year."

Paul Marsh, the ACA chief executive, said the contract lists in previous years had been too large and it was not unreasonable to expect fringe players to play a certain number of games to earn deals.

"There was no doubt in our mind and Cricket Australia's mind that we had too many contracts," Marsh said. "Right from the start we presented those figures to [the players] and they thought it was the right thing to do. Someone like George Bailey, who sits on our board, is probably a victim of this new system, but to his credit he was one of the big supporters of it. The players look at what's best for the collective player group and for Australian cricket and it's the right outcome."

Cricket Australia contracted players Michael Clarke, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, Shane Watson, David Warner.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Paul_Rampley on (June 24, 2012, 3:04 GMT)

@Mat_Mcintosh agree with you mate, Cowan hasn't earned his contract and he will have a tough job keeping other batsman such as Forrest, Khawaja and Maddinson out who will be in the future Aussie batting lineup

Posted by 5wombats on (June 23, 2012, 18:56 GMT)

What a laugh! Where are the batsmen?? We rate Clarke highly and Mike Hussey but they can't do it all on their own. M Hussey will be old! Batting was the biggest problem for Australia in the 2010/11 Ashes and there is nothing here to address that. The bowling was almost as bad and the fielding was well below standard too. Come to think of it Australia were pretty average. And if Ponting comes next year we can only say; "that'll be fun to watch"!

Posted by caughtatcover on (June 23, 2012, 8:39 GMT)

Haddin out of all should be at the bottom of the pecking order based on his recent showings...I feel Johnson has what it takes to come back strongly and he should have been on the waiting list gradually transitioning to the contracted list with the help of his performance and the point system ..really feel for Bailey..c'mon he deserves at least some reward for being the best young leader in the pack..CA has acknowledged his credentials without rewarding him..hope he stays motivated to lead his country and put up a decent show at the WT20

Posted by Mary_786 on (June 23, 2012, 8:29 GMT)

@dnarmstrong spot on mate, Cowan hasn't earned his spot yet and it opens the door for the likes of Khawaja, Forrest and Mitch Marsh to push for their spots and i predict all these 3 batsman will have big shield seasons for their states. Would love to see Khawaja and Forrest get in our top order as they have the temperament needed for this level.

Posted by dnarmstrong on (June 22, 2012, 22:01 GMT)

Would be good if we can like people's comments on here, I want to give indianpunter 10 out of 10. Bryson is spot on as Ed Cowan just hasn't nailed the opening spot yet and didn't quite deserve it. I think it's surprising they couldn't find room for George in front of a bowler but it seems like a much better system from a motivational point of view and they all know they'll get rewarded if they play well.

Posted by Muhtasim13 on (June 22, 2012, 18:00 GMT)

the new contracts do make sense from a different angle i.e. it gives players the motivation to perform. Nevertheless, its really odd to see that most of the specialist batsmen in the team are 30+. So, i would like to see how this choice turns out for Australia. But really sad to see Bailey missing out

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (June 22, 2012, 16:54 GMT)

Australia will have to do with bailey , cowan , marsh for some time and hope next batch of world class batsmen will emerge from their domestic cricket by the time, also as benny1725 said hughes is a very talented player , he just needs some time away from the spotlight to find his way..

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (June 22, 2012, 16:44 GMT)

bailey , cowan , usman and mckay deserved better , whats johnson and haddin still doing there ?? !

Posted by   on (June 22, 2012, 16:35 GMT)

no brett lee ? how is that possible isnt he gud enuf now ?

Posted by Woody111 on (June 22, 2012, 15:31 GMT)

@Benny, nice sentiment mate, hope you're right. He does have talent, and time to hone skills as you've said

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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