Australian Cricket Board (ACB) today announced that the National Selection Panel (NSP) had selected the 25 players to be contracted by the Board for the next 12 months.
The players are:
New South Wales Blues batsman Michael Clarke has been offered his first ACB contract.
Queensland Bulls paceman Ashley Noffke will accept his second contract, after being on the list in 2001-02 and Western Warriors spinner Brad Hogg gets his first full-year contract, after being upgraded to contracted status during the 2002-03 season.
Retired Australian batsman Mark Waugh, his New South Wales teammate Stuart Clark and Western Australian batsman Michael Hussey have not been offered new contracts.
The contracted players are paid a base retainer, which is levelled according to a player ranking system decided by the National Selection Panel. Each player also receives match fees, tour fees and prize money for on-field success.
Under a formula agreed with the Australian Cricketers' Association as part of the 2001 - 2005 Memorandum of Understanding, the minimum retainer in 2003-04 is $125,000, up $15,000 from last year.
Match fees for 2003-04 have been increased by 10 per cent, and players will receive $12,100 for each Test and $4850 for each one-day international.
ACB Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said the National Selection Panel has a difficult task in nominating 25 players for Australian Cricket Board contracts each year.
"With an average age of 29, the list for this year boasts a good mix of youth and experience and presents a talented crop from which to choose the Australian team," Mr Sutherland said.
"Like the selection of any squad, some players will be disappointed, but they can be comforted in the knowledge that exclusion from the list does not end the chance of gaining Australian selection at any stage this year."
Clarke's form for the New South Wales Blues in 2002-03 (763 Pura Cup and 385 ING Cup runs) helped him secure a spot in the Australian one-day international side that played England in Adelaide on 19 January 2003. He made 39 not out in that match.
The 22-year-old, who is currently on the Travelex Tour of the West Indies as cover for the injured Damien Martyn, said he was delighted to be offered his first ACB contract.
"I'm absolutely thrilled that my hard work over the past few years is paying off," Clarke said.
"I have been happy with my form and with the fact that I was able to step up when given the opportunity to play for Australia A and then Australia.
"Hopefully more opportunities will come my way next year, so I can continue to live the childhood dream of plying my trade in Australian colours."
The National Selection Panel, which comprises former Australian players Trevor Hohns (Chairman), David Boon, Allan Border and Andrew Hilditch, nominate the 25 players based on two primary criteria:
the form of the players over the past 12 months; and
their likelihood of Australian selection over the next 12 months taking into account who Australia plays, balance of the side and the need to ensure the future development of the Test and one-day international teams.
The contracted players are the core group from which selectors will choose Test and one-day international sides in the year ahead. Uncontracted players remain eligible for Australian selection and can be upgraded to an ACB contract if they gain regular selection.
Following the announcement of the ACB's contracted players, state cricket associations are now able to form their lists for season 2003-04.