Australia news April 3, 2013

Ashes contenders miss out on CA contracts


Steve Smith, Usman Khawaja, Jackson Bird and Moises Henriques, all potential Ashes tourists, have been omitted from Cricket Australia's list of centrally contracted players for 2013-14. The initial list of players was expanded from last year's 17 to 20, the maximum allowable figure under the current MOU with the players union.

As has been the case for some time, multi-format players stand a better chance of earning the immediate financial security of a CA contract than all but the highest-ranked Test match specialists, something that counted against Bird and Khawaja in particular. In their places were the likes of George Bailey, Clint McKay and Xavier Doherty, all regulars in the ODI and Twenty20 teams.

While CA does not release the player rankings, it is believed that Mitchell Starc was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the extra money freed up by the retirements of Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting. However the selection of 20 players allowed the national selectors to broaden the spread of remuneration at a time when Australian cricket has fewer outstanding performers to call on than at any stage in recent years.

The selectors' concerns about the lack of batting depth available to them was confirmed by the inclusion of only six specialist batsmen among the 20. This included Bailey, who made only one first-class 50 all summer, and the vice-captain Shane Watson. Only the captain Michael Clarke could truly be said to have earned his batting keep over the past year.

"Jackson Bird, Moises Henriques, Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith were all very close to making this contract list and we expect them to take opportunities that are presented across formats to represent Australia and make a case for an upgrade to a CA contract, as the year unfolds," the national selector John Inverarity said.

"Of the 20 players on the 2013-14 contract list all currently hold a CA playing contract. The 17 players initially contracted for the 2012-13 season played a significant role in selections across the various formats during the season. Those upgraded to the contract list during the season all proved their worth.

"Phillip Hughes has made a lot of runs throughout the past 12 months and is a young player who we are looking to become a reliable and prolific run-scorer, while Ed Cowan worked hard in the last 12 months to earn an upgrade and the panel feel that he is deserving of selection on this list for the coming year.

"George Bailey has been one of our most successful ODI batsmen since he debuted in that format in March 2012. Clint McKay's success as an ODI player was reflected in him being awarded Australia's One Day Player of The Year at the Allan Border Medal.

"The National Selection Panel is very impressed by the manner in which James Faulkner has been performing and developing. He is a very competitive young man who consistently manages to have an impact on games with both bat and ball. Glenn Maxwell is a talented young player who has had opportunity invested in him. He is very aware that he needs to tighten his game and perform with greater impact and consistency."

Ryan Harris retained his contract despite not playing for Australia during the past year due to his elongated recovery from shoulder surgery. However his strong return to wicket-taking form with Queensland in the closing stages of the season had Inverarity enthusiastic about utilising Harris during the Ashes in England, albeit not in every Test.

"I think all of us got quite excited at the end of the season when he bowled here [in Perth], and then the final down in Hobart when he bowled very well," Inverarity said. "He's a very good bowler Ryan Harris. But at his stage it would be unlikely that he would be able to do all five Tests but we'll see how that goes.

"I spoke to Ryan just a day or two before he went to India, so he's feeling good and he'll be working very hard. He's mindful of the prospect of being in England for either or both of the Champions Trophy and the Ashes tour. He's certainly got that in his mind and working towards it."

As for the developing story of the legspinner Fawad Ahmed, Inverarity said that the selectors were waiting patiently for the outcome of Federal Government deliberations over his granting of an Australian passport.

"Fawad Ahmed is a player of significant interest to us, but we're just waiting quietly for his qualification and we just don't know when that's going to happen," Inverarity said. "So we'll respond when there is further information about that."

Apart from Michael Hussey and Ponting exiting the international game, David Hussey also lost his contract and will require an extraordinary resurgence in run-scoring form to regain his place over the next year.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Allan on April 8, 2013, 11:22 GMT

    @hyclass i am on the Khawaja bandwagon, no doubt about that he is one of our finest batting talents, just needs a go which hopefully comes in the ashes. And its not easy being a selector, they do a good job and are largely not thanked for their work but its important to remember that they like us want Aus cricket to be number 1 and are not out to make friends.

  • Phil on April 6, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    @SK7648 I actually think that's a bit harsh, I've read all the blogs on this forum, and a vast majority understand that Khawaja is not the new Bradman, most understand it's dangerous to pump up his tyres to much, the point hasn't been missed, the reason this guy has an army is because people feel he's been unfairly treated, the real point should of been how Maximum Maxi and Haddin get the big dollar contracts.

  • Lewis on April 5, 2013, 12:54 GMT

    @Fleming At present we are on an all mighty decline that is gathering moment. Last series lost 4 tests in one series. In Siddons / Lehmann era hardly a test was last…..Also in their era Messers Maxwell and co (all players picked in front of Uz) would of struggled to make State Teams little own National Teams….All of the above have peformed in FC cricket on a similar or lesser level than Uz however continue to receive more support and opportunities than Khawaja, surely its time to get the classy leftie in. @AbhishekBharadwaj well said champ.

  • Anupam on April 5, 2013, 9:39 GMT

    If Aus will show some trust and developing Smith then he is the good almost best contender for Captain in Odis & T20 too. Bailey is not bad but better options than bailey are available. Test- klinger, Watson(if he bowl), Marsh, Clarke, Ferguson/Forrest, haddin/paine, Smith, Siddle, pattinson, MJ, Beer/Boyce. Odi- Watson, Finch, Marsh, Ferguson, clarke, Paine/haddin/handscomb, Smith, MJ, Starc, Mckay, Beer/ Hauritz. T20- Watson,White, Finch, Warner, Voges, Smith(C), handscomb/Haddin, MJ, Starc, Cutting, Beer.

  • Dummy4 on April 5, 2013, 6:25 GMT

    @Joseph, You seem to be wanting to make this all about test performances only, while i´d like that too, it´s simply not the way it is. Starc was the best fast bowler in the tournament in the T20 World Cup and has done consistently well in ODI cricket too. That he hasn´t been consistent yet at test level is frustrating but its more about his lack of preparation and handling than his lack of talent. He has also proven himself to be pretty durable and looks to be a good bat too. I don´t know what more you could ask of the young bloke.

  • Mariam on April 5, 2013, 0:28 GMT

    Watson, Warner, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke, Smith, Wade, Siddle, Pattinson, Harris, Lyon should be the team for the first ashes test, but long way to go till then.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 19:53 GMT

    These contracts make no sense whatsoever, how does Maxwell get a contract and not Bird? Bird was man of the match in the only test he played, he is a long term prospect and should have been rewarded, Maxwell needs to work on his batting and bowling and therefore should still be working towards a contract and not rewarded for some very poor performances. I am scared that none of these guys have a clue about who is performing and who is not and therefore will pick the wrong side for the Ashes and we will end up losing as we did in India and by the way I really think we can stuff the Poms, we have a far superior bowling lineup and our batsmen should fair a lot better then they did in India, I hope they pick the right team though. Warner, Watson, Cowan, Hughes, Clarke, Haddin, Starc, Bird, Pattinson, Lyon and Alam or Siddle depending on the conditions.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 19:26 GMT

    @ Jono Makim .... I am just comparing his importance and pay rate (as inferred by the media) to other bowlers in the team.

    In India he only took 2-wickets and do you forget his performance in Hobart where Hilfenhaus broke down .... in the 2nd Innings Siddle bowled his heart out until Starc showed up to clean up the tail, and then Starc was dropped.

    I am one person who thinks that there should be a base rate and a performance rate. If the Team doesn't perform then you have more money for player development.

  • Dummy4 on April 4, 2013, 16:35 GMT

    Like others posting here i´d much rather see more of a leaning towards test specialists rather than limited overs cricketers. Principally because it is these players that need to be kept away from T20 leagues where possible and rewarded financially for commiting to test cricket. I guess Jackson Bird is the guy I really feel for here, I guess the selectors can´t see his skills for the pace of some of the other young blokes.

    @Joseph Langford, pretty harsh on Mitch Starc, the guy does play all 3 formats.

    @Zenboomerang, terrific post!

  • Adrian on April 4, 2013, 9:09 GMT

    So, "He is very aware that he needs to tighten his game and perform with greater impact and consistency", merit based selection wins the day again. Pathetic.