James Faulkner, Shaun Marsh, Peter Siddle and Steve O'Keefe have all been jettisoned from Cricket Australia's proposed list of centrally contracted players for the 2017-18 season, amid pay negotiations that show few signs of a swift resolution.
The Australian board named 33 male and female players on the list on Monday, and offered contracts for the first time to the left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, the tall fast bowler Billy Stanlake and the batting allrounder Hilton Cartwright, who made his Test debut at the SCG in January. The young batsmen Matthew Renshaw and Peter Handscomb, who impressed on the tour of India, have also been offered their first full contracts, having earned incremental deals over the 2016-17 season.
Apart from Faulkner, O'Keefe, Siddle and Marsh, the wicketkeeper Peter Nevill and batsmen Joe Burns and George Bailey were also not on the list this season. Faulkner, incidentally, was left out of the team for the Champions Trophy, his first omission from an Australia squad for an ICC event since 2012. All the above players are now cast as domestic cricketers who, according to CA's pay offer to the players, do not contribute to the game's financial returns. The chief executive of the Australian Cricketers Association, Alistair Nicholson, emphasised that much still needed to be done before the current MOU expires at the end of June.
"It is important to remember that the in the absence of an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) agreement beyond 30 June, all the terms and conditions that underpin any contract have not been finalised," he said. "The ACA has expressed a commitment to working with CA to reach a new agreement before the end of June, but in reality we are still a long way apart on a number of issues.
"The uncertainty created for a number of key stakeholders is not ideal as we know that alongside the players, it is their families, state associations, corporate partners and broadcasters all wanting to understand what lies ahead for the game.
"The absence of a Revenue Sharing Model in CA's proposal is the number one element that drives a wedge between the players and the administrators at this point in time. The Revenue Share Model has underpinned a very successful period in Australian cricket for the past 20 years, and we consider it vital that all playing groups are afforded the opportunity to be partners in the game going forward."
Trevor Hohns, chairman of Australia's selection panel, said players had been picked on their potential to play for Australia in all three formats over the next 12 months, with assignments like the Ashes in the home summer and an away Test series in South Africa in March next year.
"We have selected 20 players for this year's contract list with a focus on players who we believe could play a part in an exciting 12 months of cricket, which includes the Ashes and an important away Test Series against South Africa," Hohns said. "Consideration has also been given to some players who we believe could potentially play in all three formats for Australia."
Cartwright, the second-highest run-getter in the 2016-17 Sheffield Shield, Renshaw and Peter Handscomb all made their Test debuts over the home summer as Australia sought to revamp their side following a stunning defeat against South Africa in Hobart, where they were dismissed for totals of 85 and 161.
Agar, who has not played a Test since his debut in the Ashes in 2013, last played an international for Australia in March last year but was one of the four spinners the team picked for the India tour. He has effectively taken the place of O'Keefe, recently fined and suspended for offensive behaviour at the New South Wales end of season awards night following a strong performance on the India tour.
Stanlake, meanwhile, was given a debut in the limited-overs matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Hohns said the selectors wanted to monitor his progress, similar to what they had done with Pat Cummins, who has held a national contract continuously since 2011 despite a raft of injuries that have only recently shown signs of abating.
"Hilton has thoroughly earned his spot in the list this year," Hohns said. "He was the second-highest runs scorer in the Sheffield Shield last season and, when given his opportunity with the Test side last summer, he impressed. He is an exciting prospect for Australian cricket and we look forward to seeing him perform for Australia in the coming 12 months, if given his opportunity.
"Ashton is a talented young player who we consider offers a fantastic package with his batting, bowling and fielding, and someone who is capable of playing all forms of the game.
"Billy has picked up the last spot on the contract list for the coming season. We see him as a player of immense talent and a great option for Australia in the future. We want to be able to monitor his progress in the coming 12 months, not dissimilar to what we have done with Pat Cummins in the past."
Among the women's cricketers, the 19-year-old legspinner Amanda-Jade Wellington was offered a contract for the first time, while Rachael Haynes was given a contract for the first time in four years. Wellington impressed over the summer, snaffling 17 wickets in eight limited-overs appearances, while Haynes recently made a comeback to the ODI side after three years.