Cricket Australia hasn’t handed contracts to Travis Head and Matthew Wade while allrounder Cameron Green has earned his first deal and youngster Will Pucovski has not been included.
Joe Burns, who lost his place during the Test series against India, and injury-prone Mitchell Marsh have also been omitted from last year’s original list with just 17 deals handed out by Cricket Australia for the 2021-22 season.
Cricket Australia Want To Create An Environment Where Players Strive For National Selection Through Consistent International Performances
Cameron Green is the only new name in Cricket Australia’s contract list pruned to 17 instead of the maximum 20. However, players who make enough appearances during the period are elevated as Marcus Stoinis was last season but he too doesn’t make this selection.
The contracts include just three specialist Test batsmen in veteran David Warner, Steven Smith, and Marnus Labuschagne with Cricket Australia’s national selector Trevor Hohns saying he wants competition from outside those contracted.
“There are two main reasons behind the size of the contract list,” he said. “Firstly, we have seen format specialisation become increasingly prevalent in recent seasons which, accordingly, has resulted in a broader group of players representing Australia, often beyond the initial list of contracted players at the start of each year. Secondly, we want to create an environment where players strive for national selection through consistent domestic performances and earn national contracts through consistent international performances.”
The axing of Matthew Wade suggests he will struggle to resume his Test career as he was also dropped from the squad for the postponed tour of South Africa in February. However, he may still feature in the T20 World Cup as he featured on the recent limited-overs tour of New Zealand and captained Australia, as a stand-in for Aaron Finch, against India in December.
Travis Head was dropped after two Tests against India when the selectors opted to stick with Matthew Wade amid a batting reshuffle when Will Pucovski and David Warner both returned from injury at the SCG.
However, he was part of the squad for the then scheduled South Africa tour and had a prolific Sheffield Shield season, having finished as the second-leading run-scorer behind Cameron Green and is likely to be a strong candidate for a middle-order spot in the Ashes.
“There is a considerable amount of international cricket to be played across all formats in the next 12 months and the door to national selection is never closed to players outside this list,” Cricket Australia national selector Trevor Hohns said.
Both Cameron Green and Will Pucovski made their debuts last summer, but it’s only the all-rounder who makes the list. Cameron Green played all four Tests against India while Will Pucovski, who earlier in the season hit back-to-back double centuries in the Sheffield Shield before suffering another concussion, made his debut in Sydney where he scored a half-century but was then sidelined by a shoulder injury.
Will Pucovski is expected to recover in time for the start of next season and is the favorite to open the batting alongside David Warner in the Test side for the Ashes and the one-off match against Afghanistan penciled in beforehand.
Cameron Green had a magnificent season with the bat for Western Australia where he was the leading Sheffield Shield run-scorer with 922 at 76.83. In four Tests, he made 236 runs including a maiden half-century at the SCG. However, he went wicketless in the series – and only collected three in the Shield – as he worked his back from a stress fracture.
“Cameron is a player we believe will play an important role for Australian cricket after his impressive breakout summer,” Hohns said. “His 84 in the second innings against India at the SCG demonstrated excellent technique and resolve and we are confident his bowling will be impactful at the international level. His domestic form was also outstanding, and we expect he will only get better with more international exposure.”
While much of Australia’s schedule over the next 12 months remains to be confirmed, they are due to return to action in July with ODIs and T20Is in West Indies before potentially heading straight to Bangladesh for a T20I series.
Cricket Australia will send its team to be in Sri Lanka ahead of the T20 World Cup – currently scheduled for India in October – before returning home for a season that is expected to include a one-off Test against Afghanistan ahead of the Ashes that will run from early December to mid-January.
According to the FTP, South Africa is due to tour early next year for white-ball matches before Australia has a full tour scheduled against Pakistan from late February. Australia has not played an overseas Test since the 2019 Ashes with tours of Bangladesh and South Africa postponed due to Covid-19.
Cricket Australia Contracts list: Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Adam Zampa