Australia contracted 20 players to its national cricket teams in the 12 months from July, with recent Test squad members Steve Smith, Moises Henriques and Usman Khawaja among those to miss out.
All-rounder James Faulkner and batsmen Phil Hughes and Ed Cowan were among six players given full contracts for 2013-14 after they were added to the initial 17-man list for 2012-13, Cricket Australia said. Retirees Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey drop off the roster along with David Hussey, who was omitted.
Chief selector John Inverarity said Smith, Henriques, Khawaja and Jackson Bird had been “very close in our considerations” and their omissions wouldn’t preclude them from playing for Australia, which is scheduled to take on England in back-to-back Ashes series this year. Contracts are awarded on performances in the past 12 months and the likelihood of future selection.
“We just thought the natural cutoff point last time was 17 and this time its 20,” Inverarity said in a televised news conference. “All of those 20 players we see as playing a real role during the 12-month period starting July 1. There’s another three, four or five players who it’s very likely that they will be upgraded.”
Australia’s Test team, which suffered its first 4-0 sweep of losses since 1970 in India last month, faces England in two five-match Ashes series, in the U.K. beginning July 10 and then in Australia from Nov. 21.
Inverarity said squads for the first Ashes series and June’s Champions Trophy one-day tournament in England and Wales were close to being selected.
The decision not to offer David Hussey a new contract may signal the end of the 35-year-old batsman’s international career after 69 one-day matches and 39 Twenty20 games.
“I’d never say never about anybody, but it is an indication that we are looking towards grooming some younger players,” Inverarity said of Hussey’s omission. “As we all appreciate, we are very much in a transition stage in Australian cricket. We are looking to give experience to those young players we think will come through.”
CONTRACTED PLAYERS: George Bailey, Michael Clarke, Ed Cowan, Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, James Faulkner, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson.
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