Siddle keeps Cricket Australia contract
Peter Siddle has retained his Cricket Australia contract for 2016-17 despite the likelihood that he will be sidelined for a lengthy period of the year due to stress fractures in his back. The renewal of his contract is an encouraging sign for Siddle, whose international future appeared cloudy after the diagnosis in February following the Test tour of New Zealand.
Stress fractures of the back are not uncommon among fast bowlers but are often suffered by younger men still making their way in the game. At 31, Siddle will need not only to recover well and return through the Sheffield Shield, but also fight off more youthful challengers if he is to add to his 61 Test caps.
The 20-man contract list for 2016-17 was fairly predictable, with the only six players missing from the group announced last March being the team's retirees: Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Chris Rogers. Coming in from outside last year's initial group are Siddle, Usman Khawaja, Joe Burns, Adam Voges, Peter Nevill, John Hastings, Nathan Coulter-Nile.
However, all seven of those men played enough matches for Australia during the current 2015-16 period to have already been upgraded to Cricket Australia contracts. The only others who played enough to be upgraded during the 2015-16 year but missed out on 2016-17 deals were Matthew Wade and Scott Boland, who played exclusively in the shorter formats.
Wade remains Australia's preferred one-day international gloveman and has been named in the ODI squad for a tri-series in the West Indies in June, but Nevill was used in the World T20 in India. Others who missed out on contracts include Jackson Bird and Steve O'Keefe, both of whom played Test cricket during the past few months, as well as short-form players Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson.
"The Australian team is set to embark on another busy year of international cricket and we believe the players chosen in this group are those that are right in contention to represent the country over the next 12 months," national selector Rod Marsh said.
"There is a lot of talent within this group and we have confidence that the players chosen can be successful in all three forms of the game, against a range of opposition, in a variety of conditions.
"Following a number of high-profile retirements, we believe this group of players gives us a healthy blend of youth and experience to represent Australia at the highest level, allowing us the best chance of maintaining our number-one rankings in Test and ODI cricket, as well as improving our performances in the T20 format."
Australia's next Test series is in Sri Lanka following the West Indies one-day tri-series, and then in the home summer they host South Africa and Pakistan for Test matches. A Test tour of India follows in the new year. Players from outside the contract list can be upgraded to CA deals if they earn 12 upgrade points throughout the year on a basis of five points per Test appearance, two per ODI and one per T20 international.
Contract list George Bailey, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, James Pattinson, Adam Voges, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale