Shaun Tait has missed a spot in Australia's 25-man contract list, but Andrew Symonds has made it along with six players who gained full deals for the first time. In a couple of pointers towards the Ashes, South Australia's Graham Manou is the back-up wicketkeeper behind Brad Haddin and Nathan Hauritz is the only specialist spinner, dramatically increasing his prospects of winning a spot ahead of Bryce McGain.

The squad is full of fresh faces following Australia's season of change in 2008-09, with Manou joined by Callum Ferguson, Phillip Hughes, Marcus North, Andrew McDonald and Peter Siddle. Tait was cut in a surprise decision, particularly after Cricket Australia did not provide a medical clearance for him to play in the IPL.

Andrew Hilditch and his fellow selectors now see Tait, who has suffered frequent injuries during a hit-and-miss career, as a limited-overs specialist, which reduces his ranking among the elite group. David Warner, another short-form player, was overlooked despite regular outings since January.

Adam Voges missed out two months after choosing to get married instead of appear in the one-day series in South Africa while the exits of Phil Jaques, Ashley Noffke and Beau Casson were predicted following interrupted seasons. However, Dave Gilbert, the Cricket New South Wales chief executive, was upset by the omission of Jaques.

"His last Test innings for Australia was a century and he averages in the high 40s," Gilbert said. "How he is not considered in the top 25 cricketers in the country is hard to comprehend."

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Show them the money
  • Australia's cricketers are facing another gruelling year - with up to 14 Tests, 34 one-day internationals and 12 Twenty20s scheduled in this pay period - but the financial rewards are great. Cricket Australia's top retainer is set to exceed the A$1million mark for 2009-10, and players could top that up by a further $300,000-$400,000 in match payments should they appear in the majority of fixtures.
  • Australia are due to play Test series against England (away), Pakistan (home), West Indies (home) and New Zealand (away) in this contract cycle. They will also make two separate trips to England for ODI series, and one seven-game set in India as part of a massive 34-game schedule. And should they progress to the final of the World Twenty20, the Australians can expect a further 12 20-over fixtures.
  • When touring bonuses and tournament prizemoney are factored into the equation, the gross earnings of Australia's top players will approach the $2million mark. And industry experts believe that figure could double for the country's elite when considering endorsements, IPL contracts and media deals.
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Brad Hodge, a perennial reserve, held his place along with Cameron White, who was not chosen for the series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. Symonds, Brett Lee and Stuart Clark, who have also battled injuries, were retained.

Hilditch's next task is to pick the Ashes squad, which will be named on Wednesday, and Manou received a timely boost. "No one can doubt Manou's credentials following his performance in state cricket over the last two seasons, in all forms of the game," Hilditch said. He said the squad was also picked with an eye to the 2011 World Cup.

"It's obviously a very exciting time for players receiving their first contract, such as Phillip Hughes, who has had an outstanding start for Australia and will have an important role in the team's future," Hilditch said. "Siddle has had an outstanding debut season and richly deserves his contract.

"McDonald, North and Hauritz have been rewarded for their performances in South Africa and Nathan had an excellent one-day tournament against Pakistan recently. Ferguson has had an impressive debut in one-day cricket and will be an important part of our future in that form of the game."

Australia are scheduled to play 14 Tests over the next 12 months, with each player receiving A$13,000 per appearance, and up to 34 one-day internationals. ODI match fees are set at $5200 while they get $3900 for a Twenty20.

Last summer the contract list ballooned following the addition of 11 players during the year, which also included the retirements of Matthew Hayden and Stuart MacGill. The top tier of stars had a base deal of more than $1million in 2008-09 and the bottom level began at $180,000.

The final amounts of the new pay packets will be finalised when Cricket Australia's ongoing negotiations with the Australian Cricketers' Association conclude. Those discussions and the timing of the limited-overs series with Pakistan delayed the contract announcement by two weeks.

2009-10 contract holders Doug Bollinger (NSW), Nathan Bracken (NSW), Stuart Clark (NSW), Michael Clarke (NSW), Callum Ferguson (SA), Brad Haddin (NSW), Nathan Hauritz (NSW), Ben Hilfenhaus (Tas), Brad Hodge (Vic), James Hopes (Qld), Phillip Hughes (NSW), David Hussey (Vic), Michael Hussey (WA), Mitchell Johnson (WA), Simon Katich (NSW), Brett Lee (NSW), Graham Manou (SA), Shaun Marsh (WA), Andrew McDonald (Vic), Marcus North (WA), Ricky Ponting (Tas), Peter Siddle (Vic), Andrew Symonds (Qld), Shane Watson (NSW), Cameron White (Vic).

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo