National selector John Inverarity has indicated Alex Doolan is likely to be retained as Australia’s No.3 in the team’s next Test series – against Pakistan in October – despite the Tasmanian missing out on a berth in the new round of Cricket Australia central contracts.
The 28-year-old made his debut in the recent series-winning tour of South Africa and played in all three Tests of the 2-1 triumph, averaging 31 with a top score of 89.
However, Doolan’s name was absent on Monday when CA announced a compressed 18-player contract list for the 2014-15 season – down by two from last year’s group of 20.
Instead, fellow top-order candidates Phillip Hughes and Shaun Marsh were included. Marsh posted a century when recalled in South Africa, only to be left out for the deciding Test in Cape Town when Shane Watson returned from injury and after he had made a pair in Port Elizabeth. Hughes, dumped during Australia’s Ashes tour of England last year, returned to the fold as a tourist in South Africa but did not play.
With the World Cup on the horizon, their one-day credentials counted in their favour at the contracting table but Inverarity said Doolan remained well and truly in the picture at No.3. He could be upgraded to a CA deal of $210,000 by playing three Tests in the coming season.
‘‘Just two months ago, Alex hadn’t played for Australia so his time is yet to come,’’ said Inverarity, who refused to confirm whether or not he would continue as the selection chief after his contract expired in June.
“He’s very much to the fore in our thinking, he batted at No.3 in the three Tests in South Africa and did well.
“We’ll be looking to him, he’s the incumbent No.3 so it’s up to him to perform well and if he does he’ll be upgraded.
“This year, 18 was deemed to be the natural cut-off point, and those who are on the brink and just outside will have the opportunity – if they earn selection – of being upgraded.
“It’s up to them, those who are outside, to perform well, win selection and be upgraded.”
Ashes heroes Mitchell Johnson, David Warner and Brad Haddin were the big winners in the contract list and will see their incomes soar into the range of $2 million a year, a salary likely to be topped only by captain Michael Clarke, who will continue to be the country’s highest paid player.
Matthew Wade, Ed Cowan, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Clint McKay and Patrick Cummins lost their contracts in the new round of deals. Usman Khawaja, who was not in the initial contract list of 20 last year but was upgraded after playing during the Ashes series in England, was also overlooked.
Other notable omissions were rising West Australian all-rounder Nathan Coulter-Nile and fringe Test seamer Jackson Bird.
Contracted players will benefit from a $1.4 million rise in the player payments pool as a result of the $590 million television deal CA struck with Channel Nine and Network Ten last year. The payment pool for the forthcoming season is $14.6 million.
The minimum salary for a CA contracted player this year has increased to $250,000
Players stand to earn well in excess of their base contracts when appearance fees, win bonuses and marketing add-ons are taken into account.
Cricket Australia contracted players 2014-15: Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, David Warner, Mitchell Johnson, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Starc, George Bailey, Chris Rogers, Nathan Lyon, PhillipHughes, Glenn Maxwell, Aaron Finch, James Faulkner, Shaun Marsh.