David Hussey, Doug Bollinger, Shaun Marsh and Beau Casson have earned their first Cricket Australia contracts but Chris Rogers was the major omission in the 25-man squad for 2008-09. Rogers, who made his Test debut in January, was axed just days after he announced he was leaving Western Australia in an effort to improve his chances of further international action.
The South Australia spin duo of Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey were also removed from last year's list, which was also missing the newly retired Adam Gilchrist, Brad Hogg and Jason Gillespie. As expected, two of the stars of the domestic season, Simon Katich and Ashley Noffke, were both returned to the squad after missing out last year.
The selectors altered the makeup of the group by declining to include a backup wicketkeeper - Brad Haddin is the only gloveman in the list. They also reduced their slow-bowling options from four last year to only two for the next season. Casson was viewed as the only full-time support required for Stuart MacGill, with no place for Victoria's legspinner Bryce McGain.
The squad features ten New South Wales players including Bollinger, the left-arm fast bowler who topped the Pura Cup wicket tally with 45 at 15.44 despite missing the end of the summer with a broken foot. Katich, who captained the Blues to the Pura Cup triumph and broke the record for most runs in a season with 1506 at 94.12, had to be included following one year out of the national squad.
Noffke's sensational all-round season - he made 686 runs at 45.73 and grabbed 43 wickets at 21.25 - earned him his first national deal since 2003. Marsh, the son of the former Test opener Geoff Marsh, was included following his best domestic summer, during which he scored 663 Pura Cup runs, however he will be viewed primarily as a limited-overs option.
Victoria, who lost to the Blues in the Pura Cup final, provided three men with Hussey joining his state team-mates Cameron White and Brad Hodge. Hussey's sensational all-round season featured 1008 Pura Cup runs at 56, 484 FR Cup runs at 44, and 237 Twenty20 runs at 47.40, and he was called up for the ODI tour of West Indies.
Rogers' dream of adding to his sole Test cap slipped further away following a summer during which he could not hold down a spot in the Warriors' one-day team. He had another solid Pura Cup season with 744 runs at 43.76, but it was down on his outstanding 2006-07, and whichever of Victoria, South Australia and Queensland secure Rogers for 2008-09 will now need to foot his salary bill instead of relying on Cricket Australia.
"We actually rank ... 20 players in both forms of the game, and then there is a points system which converts to 25 contracted players," the chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch told AAP. "Chris was very close and still very much in Test match rankings, so it's just the way the system has worked that he hasn't got a contract."
The axing of Bailey was no surprise as the legspinner, who was selected largely on potential last year, managed only two Pura Cup games for one wicket. His Redbacks' team-mate Cullen played eight matches but his 18 victims at 49.44 were not enough to convince the selectors that he would play international cricket in the next year. Shaun Tait was also retained despite taking a self-enforced break from the game, as it appears likely he will be back playing for South Australia next season.
Contracted players Doug Bollinger (NSW), Nathan Bracken (NSW), Beau Casson (NSW), Stuart Clark (NSW), Michael Clarke (NSW), Brad Haddin (NSW), Matthew Hayden (Qld), Ben Hilfenhaus (Tas), Brad Hodge (Vic), James Hopes (Qld), David Hussey (Vic), Michael Hussey (WA), Phil Jaques (NSW), Mitchell Johnson (Qld), Simon Katich (NSW), Brett Lee (NSW), Stuart MacGill (NSW), Shaun Marsh (WA), Ashley Noffke (Qld), Ricky Ponting (Tas), Andrew Symonds (Qld), Shaun Tait (SA), Adam Voges (WA), Shane Watson (Qld), Cameron White (Vic).