SYDNEY - Fringe Test batsmen Shaun Marsh and Phil Hughes were offered contracts by Cricket Australia Monday but incumbent Test number three Alex Doolan was not among the 18 players on the payroll.
Rising pace bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile was also a notable omission from the contracted list which is updated annually and was cut back from 20 to 18 players. Doolan played in all three Tests on the recent tour of South Africa, scoring 186 runs at 31, while Marsh made successive ducks after scoring 148 in the First Test at Centurion and was dropped for the series decider. Hughes was on the tour but did not play in the Test series.
The contracts take into account form in Tests, ODIs and Twenty20 matches. "Alex Doolan was close to receiving a contract and he is highly regarded by the selection panel as the incumbent number three batsman in our Test line-up," chief selector John Inverarity said. "He made his Australian debut less than two months ago and we look forward to him building strongly on the promising start he made in the three-Test series in South Africa." Inverarity said Coulter-Nile also came close to receiving a contract. "He has had some impressive white-ball (one-day international) performances for Australia and was in the Test squad for much of the Australian summer," he said.
"The panel would like to see Nathan continue to progress well and have another strong season in 2014-15." Others to miss out were Ed Cowan, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Clint McKay, Matthew Wade, Usman Khawaja and Adam Voges. Cummins, 20, had been on the contracted list despite having played little cricket, as he battled serious back problems but Inverarity said CA could no longer justify paying him. The rising young paceman has missed the last two Australian domestic summers with back and foot injuries following a remarkable Test debut in 2011, in which he claimed man-of-the-match honours against South Africa in Johannesburg.
"He's an 'older' young man now and we have full confidence in his state New South Wales to manage him," Inverarity said. "We supported him there for a couple of years, but we couldn't justify including him in this contract list." Australia's upcoming schedule includes Test matches against Pakistan, India, the West Indies and England while in the one-day international arena their focus will be on preparing for the World Cup beginning in February 2015 on home soil. In 2014-15, the minimum CA retainer is Aus$250,000 ($231,000).
CONTRACT LIST FOR 2014-2015:
George Bailey, Michael Clarke, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Phillip Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Chris Rogers, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson.