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Litchfield, Garth and Graham earn Australia central contracts

Allrounder Nicola Carey declined the offer a deal and will instead focus on pre-season with Tasmania

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Phoebe Litchfield made it back-to-back half-centuries to start her ODI career, Australia vs Pakistan, 2nd women's ODI, Brisbane, January 18, 2023

Phoebe Litchfield is one of the rising stars in Australian cricket  •  Getty Images

Phoebe Litchfield, Kim Garth and Heather Graham have been awarded Cricket Australia central contracts for the first time as part of a newly expanded list.
Under the next MoU which was announced earlier this week, up to 18 contracts are now available and the selectors have opted to use 17 of them with the value of deals also significantly increasing.
Fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck, who is set to make her return from a long-term injury on the Australia A tour of England in June, has retained her position. Grace Harris has also found a place on the list having been upgraded to a contract during the previous cycle.
Opening batter Litchfield made her international debut late last year in the T20I series against India then impressed in the ODIs against Pakistan. Garth, the former Ireland allrounder, also made her Australia debut against India while Graham came back into the fold during 2022.
"Kim Garth and Heather Graham have performed strongly at domestic level over the past 12 months, and both thoroughly deserve their spot on the list," national selector Shawn Flegler said.
"Phoebe Litchfield is a young talent who we believe has a big future, she's built her game upon a very sound technique and we're confident she can transfer those skills into international cricket.
"We've had a core group of players performing well over the last 12 months which means some talented players have missed out, it's certainly made selection tough but we're in a fortunate position to have such depth across Australian Cricket.
"Importantly, there is still the opportunity for players not offered contracts to earn upgrades through consistent performances, as we saw with Grace last year."
Allrounder Nicola Carey declined the offer of a contract with a preference to focus on pre-season with Tasmania having previously opted out of the Australia A tour of England. The retired Rachael Haynes is the other player to drop off the previous list.
"Nicola expressed a desire to spend the winter in Tasmania to allow her to utilise a full preseason at home, focusing on using that time to develop skills in her game to push for international selection in the future," Flegler said.
"We offered Nic a contract because we believe she is a player of international quality, but we respect her decision to focus on a pre-season program with Tasmania and will continue to support her moving forward."
Australia's next cricket is the multi-format Ashes tour which begins in mid-June. The players will have various camps in Brisbane during May to prepare.
The next 12 months has three Tests in Australia's calendar with away matches against England and India plus a home fixture against South Africa early next year.
Australia women central contracts Darcie Brown, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Heather Graham, Grace Harris, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Meg Lanning, Phoebe Litchfield, Tahlia McGrath, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo