Michael Lewis, the Victorian fast bowler, and Daniel Cullen, the offspinner from South Australia, have gained their first full Cricket Australia contracts, while Brad Haddin, James Hopes and Cameron White have had their contracts upgraded to full-year ones.
Darren Lehmann, Martin Love, Ian Harvey, Matthew Elliott, Jimmy Maher and Brad Williams were excluded from the 25-man list that the Australian board announced today. However, the selectors stated that selection to play for Australia will always be dictated on form, and those not included in the list will also be equally considered.
The players were nominated based on their form over the past year; and more importantly on their likelihood of Australian selection over the course of the next 12 months. Trevor Hohns, the chairman of the national selection panel, felt that the selectors had chosen a well-balanced list with a good combination of experience and new talent.
Hohns paid tribute to Darren Lehmann, but added that the selectors also had to have an eye on the future. He also felt that Matthew Elliott, Ian Harvey and Martin Love had not had tremendous seasons when compared to their usual high standards. "As we said when Darren was not selected for the Ashes tour, we are indicating that it is time for us to look toward the future. We are confident that the young players on the contracted list will fill the void left by Darren's omission."
Commenting on the inclusion of Brad Haddin, the New South Wales wicketkeeper, Hohns said: "Haddin's form last year indicated his cricket has improved immensely and in particular his wicketkeeping. As a result he was selected in both squads for the Ashes tour, and has now been rewarded with a full contract. It is the first time in several years we have included a back-up keeper which is an indication that we are keen to look after Adam Gilchrist's workload."
Hohns also gave the example of Nathan Bracken, who had won back his contract after being left out in 2004-05. "Nathan has been rewarded for another solid season at domestic level and demonstrates that it is possible for players to win back a contract."
List of contracted players for 2005-06
Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Daniel Cullen, Adam Gilchrist, Jason Gillespie, Matthew Hayden, Brad Haddin, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, James Hopes, Michael Hussey, Michael Kasprowicz, Simon Katich, Justin Langer, Brett Lee, Michael Lewis, Stuart MacGill, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait, Shane Warne, Shane Watson, Cameron White.