JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

Longer contract list reveals void at top

Comment

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Video will begin in 5 seconds.

Video settings

Please Log in to update your video settings

Cricket Australia confirms contracts

Australian fast bowler, Mitchell Starc, leads a list of 20 players who are awarded top level contracts for the upcoming 2013-14 seasons.

PT0M0S 620 349

There's nothing like back-to-back Ashes to inspire more than usual fascination in the annual handout of Cricket Australia contracts. This year, with an atmosphere of gloom around the Test team, the anticipation was even greater.

That does nothing to dispel the perception of confusion about Australia‚Äôs best Test team. For instance, Khawaja remains on the outer, despite being spruiked as a top six batsman for England 

But the most striking thing about the list announced on Wednesday is the number of contracts - the maximum allocation of 20 - and the absence of a handful of players expected to play significant roles in the Ashes. Are there really, based on recent performances and the dysfunctional team culture exposed in India, 20 cricketers in the country deserving of national deals?

Michael Clarke ... there is daylight between him and the rest of the squad.

Michael Clarke ... there is daylight between him and the rest of the squad. Photo: Getty Images

If so, Steve Smith and Jackson Bird can consider themselves unlucky not to be among them.

Smith's case is ironic. Two years ago he was a poster boy for a bloated contract system that paid young cricketers too much, too soon. Now, fresh from a series in which he was Australia's best batsman other than Michael Clarke, he misses the list.

Bird took 11 wickets in his first two Tests but could not displace Ben Hilfenhaus. Or, for that matter, Clint Mckay, who appears because of his limited-overs exploits.

Mitchell Starc deserved to vault into the top echelon, not only because he plays all formats, and plays them well, but because he sacrificed a big IPL pay day to dedicate himself to playing for Australia.

Victorian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, who has much work to do to hold his place as either a batsman or bowler in the Test team, scraped in.

His deal of about $235,000 is insignificant compared with the $1 million he'll get from the Mumbai Indians in the IPL but it is up to Maxwell to ensure he does not fall into the trap Smith has just climbed out of.

The list does reveal something about the selectors' Ashes intentions. In that regard, pencil in pugnacious Tasmanian all-rounder James Faulkner for the England tour. Faulkner, who has already played a handful of limited-overs games for Australia, excelled with bat and ball in the Sheffield Shield final. In addition, his left-arm fast-mediums should be well-suited to English conditions.

Quicks Ryan Harris and Pat Cummins are worth keeping on for the damage they might do to England, if they can stay on the park.

Last season, the list was trimmed to 17, an admission that allocating 25 contracts allowed too much margin for error. It was also supposed to be the start of a new era of performance-based selections and an emphasis on Tests.

The decision to reward 20 players, four of whom have not played a Test in 12 months, appears to deviate from those principles. In fact it conveys a disturbing void at the top of Australian cricket, where there is Clarke and then daylight.

The retirements of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey freed up lots of cash but there are few outstanding performers to spend it on. So the selectors chose to spread the money across a bigger squad.

That does nothing to dispel the perception of confusion about Australia's best team. Usman Khawaja remains on the outer, despite being spruiked as a top six batsman.

Nor does the contract list change the conventional wisdom that, while blessed with a strong platoon of pacemen, Australia will struggle to fix its batting woes in time for the Ashes.

100 comments so far

  • Who would believe that not doing your homework would derail your career. Just ask Khawaja; of the 4 suspended, he is the worse off. Pointing or Hussey will come out of retirement before Khawaja gets to play in England.

    Commenter
    Gregory
    Location
    Calamvale
    Date and time
    April 03, 2013, 2:13PM
    • I've heard every excuses under the sun to keep him from the team. On the other hand, every positive under the sun to keep Hughes in the team and none of which he has lived up to. Khawaja would make the batting lineup of the SA, English and Indian teams as a middle order batsman but struggle to get a start in test team that is below average. Go figure.

      Commenter
      P
      Date and time
      April 03, 2013, 3:01PM
    • Inevarity said Khawaja will be in the top 6 batsman in the ashes and said this las tweek so he will play a big part. But there is no doubt that you can't replace legends overnight.

      Commenter
      Amith_S
      Date and time
      April 03, 2013, 3:16PM
    • Guys keep in mind that this is just the initial contract list, to those who they say have proven, the others will get their chance and they wont be going to England without the likes of Bird, and Khawaja, and i fully expect Khawaja to be among our best bats in the ashes and the selectors know this as they know which batsman perform in which conditions well.

      Commenter
      Phil_Clarke
      Date and time
      April 03, 2013, 3:57PM
    • I agree with the selectors that Khawaja hasn't earned his contract at this point. There is more to his non-selection for the team than non-performance of Mohali homework.

      Commenter
      rudy
      Date and time
      April 03, 2013, 5:27PM
    • gregory, if you are on the edge of the Test team, what makes you think you can flout instructions from team management? Either arrogance or plain thick! Either way, Khawaja is not needed ... unless of course you are from NSW!

      Commenter
      tim
      Date and time
      April 03, 2013, 6:25PM
    • Ahemad,Khawaja & Sandhu will be in Team once,We will have score like

      POMS 5-Ausssy 0 !

      Ohhhii

      Commenter
      xdulkar
      Date and time
      April 03, 2013, 8:47PM
    • Pointing is awesome. So is Swearing and Staring. But Batting, Bowling and Fielding are just shocking in this Aussie side. Bring on the Ashes!

      Commenter
      Neilt
      Date and time
      April 03, 2013, 10:30PM
  • I'm concerned that we have so few batters in this list. Many allrounders and fast bowlers. Khawaja should have been on the list along with Bird. Khawaja hasn't played a match since November warming the bench so how exactly was he supposed to make a case to get included. Instead we reward folks such as Maxwell and others who failed in India with contracts. I expect Khawaja to star for us in the ashes given how well he plays swing bowling. If we’re to have any chance whatsoever at winning the Ashes, we need technically strong batsmen to come in such as Khawaja and possibly Ferguson though i might be bit biased there. So we need an XI along these lines:

    Cowan
    Warner
    Khawaja
    Ferguson
    Clarke
    Watson
    Wade
    Starc
    Pattinson
    Siddle
    Lyon
    Harris

    Its a tough call but i wouldn't include Sayers who has been instrumental for South Australia yet over Harris, Siddle and Pattinson, its just too hard to. And can someone tell me what Bird did wrong not be picked.

    Commenter
    Lewis_Edwards
    Date and time
    April 03, 2013, 2:18PM
    • What!!?? A well balanced team picked on performance, not potential?
      Dreaming

      Commenter
      pmc
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 03, 2013, 3:16PM

More comments

Make a comment

You are logged in as [Logout]

All information entered below may be published.

Error: Please enter your screen name.

Error: Your Screen Name must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Your Location must be less than 255 characters.

Error: Please enter your comment.

Error: Your Message must be less than 300 words.

Post to

You need to have read and accepted the Conditions of Use.

Thank you

Your comment has been submitted for approval.

Comments are moderated and are generally published if they are on-topic and not abusive.

Related Coverage

Featured advertisers