Victoria have axed the veteran trio of Dirk Nannes, Bryce McGain and Shane Harwood from their contract list for next summer. The emergence of separate Twenty20 contracts for the new Big Bash League means Nannes will focus solely on his T20 career, while McGain, 39, and Harwood, 37, might also be hoping to win Twenty20 deals.
Although all three men have played for Australia in either Test or one-day cricket, none of the demotions came as a major surprise in an ageing Bushrangers outfit. Nannes, 35, had already retired from first-class cricket, McGain played only one Sheffield Shield game and a handful in the short formats last season, and Harwood was used in a similarly sparing fashion and had not played a first-class match since early 2009.
Also departing from last year's squad was the fast bowler Damien Wright, who had already announced his retirement from first-class cricket in Australia and will remain around the group as bowling coach. The fast men Jayde Herrick and Steve Gilmour have been added to the list, while last summer's rookies Ryan Carters, Will Sheridan and Glenn Maxwell have been upgraded to full deals.
The Bushrangers have also signed Andrew McDonald and Clint McKay, who had been on Cricket Australia contracts until this month, to long-term deals, along with Rob Quiney, Aaron Finch, Matthew Wade and Michael Hill. Three new rookies have been included - Peter Handscomb, Scott Boland and Steven Reid - bringing the size of the squad to 26.
Victoria are aiming for improvement in the longer format after missing the Sheffield Shield final for the first time in four seasons. However, they are the reigning champions in the Ryobi Cup, which will be defended next summer by a squad mentored by Simon Helmot.
Helmot, the assistant to the head coach Greg Shipperd, has been handed the reins of the 50-over side, while Shipperd will remain in charge of the Sheffield Shield unit. The two men will also be competing when it comes to the Big Bash League, each taking charge of one of the two new Melbourne-based sides.
"We have an established team with players who have been in the system for a number of years and achieved much success," Cricket Victoria's general manager, Shaun Graf, said. "The fact that we haven't chased interstate players, and instead, put faith in our younger guys by offering them long-term deals speaks for itself.
"We are confident we have the right blend of senior players and up-and-coming talent to keep us at the forefront of domestic cricket. It's also fantastic to have our long standing coach Greg Shipperd again involved and to see Simon Helmot rewarded for his hard work with a head coaching appointment. Simon has come from the non-traditional coaching path, doing the hard yards at district level - opposed to being a first-class cricketer, so it's great to see him work his way up to this position."
Victoria squad Ryan Carters, Mark Cleary, Aaron Finch, Steven Gilmour, John Hastings (Cricket Australia contract), Jayde Herrick, Michael Hill, Brad Hodge, Jon Holland, David Hussey (CA), Alex Keath, Glenn Maxwell, Andrew McDonald, Clint McKay, James Pattinson (CA), Darren Pattinson, Rob Quiney, Chris Rogers, Will Sheridan, Peter Siddle (CA), Matthew Wade, Cameron White (CA).
Rookies Brett Forsyth, Peter Handscomb, Steven Reid, Scott Boland.