The changing of the guard in Australia's international playing ranks has received further expression today with an unprecedented seven revisions made to the annual list of Australian Cricket Board (ACB) contract holders.
After a season that saw sweeping changes to the personnel in the country's one-day international side, a number of long-serving international players have surrendered their status as contract holders to several members of the new wave of cricketers beginning to make their mark in Australia.
Queensland off spinner Nathan Hauritz and batsman Jimmy Maher, Tasmanian all-rounder Shane Watson, and Western Australian paceman Brad Williams head the list of newcomers, continuing their accession into elite company by securing places on the annual contract list for the first time.
Western Australian opening batsman Mike Hussey is also among today's winners after being recalled to a list on which he won inclusion for a single 12-month period two years ago.
And confirmation of Queensland fast bowler Andy Bichel's status as one of Australia's leading contemporary players has similarly been provided with his recall to the full list for the first time in two years. Bichel was not included on last year's original list, and only formally won back his contract after appearing in three successive Test matches for Australia during the 2001-02 international season.
New South Wales paceman Stuart Clark has meanwhile added to the sense of change by supplanting Ashley Noffke as the 'bolter' in this year's field and gaining a contract at the end of his first full season of first-class cricket. A tall, accurate right armer, Clark captured 45 first-class wickets to be a standout player at domestic level in 2001-02, after appearing in a total of only 10 first-class games to that point of his career.
"The contract will give me some extra confidence going into the new season because I'll know that I'm in the selectors eyes for higher honours in the future," said Clark of his elevation today.
"I have been in the mix for a Blues pace bowling spot for a while, but it was only this year that I was able to grab my opportunities.
"I was happy with my form and consistency in both forms of the game last season and hopefully I can continue that for the Blues next year."
Alongside Noffke, those out of favour in the shake-up are former international players Michael Slater, Damien Fleming, Colin Miller, Greg Blewett, Simon Katich and Shane Lee.
New South Wales, with eight representatives, remains the state with the most players on the list. Queensland's increasingly strong contribution to national squads has also been reflected with the inclusion of six of its players, while Western Australia maintains a significant presence of its own with five.
Two players are included from each of the three remaining states, ensuring that the 2002-03 list contains the lowest number of Victorian representatives since the central contract system was formally introduced three years ago.
The 25 elite ACB contracts have come to represent hotly contested property in Australian cricket circles over recent seasons. Each of the contracts now offers its holder a base salary of $A110,000 as well as providing recognition of the player's place among the core group of cricketers from which Australian Test and one-day international teams will be selected over the following 12-month period.
In accordance with a formula specified in the compact between the ACB and the country's player-representative body, the Australian Cricketers' Association, the highest ranked player among the group of 25 will receive a salary of $440,000 as his base income for the next year.
The full list of 2002-03 ACB contracted players is: Michael Bevan (NSW), Andy Bichel (Qld), Nathan Bracken (NSW), Stuart Clark (NSW), Adam Gilchrist (WA), Jason Gillespie (SA), Ian Harvey (Vic), Nathan Hauritz (Qld), Matthew Hayden (Qld), Mike Hussey (WA), Justin Langer (WA), Brett Lee (NSW), Darren Lehmann (SA), Martin Love (Qld), Stuart MacGill (NSW), Glenn McGrath (NSW), Jimmy Maher (Qld), Damien Martyn (WA), Ricky Ponting (Tas), Andrew Symonds (Qld), Shane Warne (Vic), Shane Watson (Tas), Mark Waugh (NSW), Steve Waugh (NSW), Brad Williams (WA).