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Five takeaways from Australia’s central contract list for 2021-22

by Rohit Sankar 3 minute read

Cricket Australia announced national contracts for the 2021-22 season with some prominent names missing.

Australia handed out central contracts for the 2021-22 season to 17 players with the period covering major events like the T20 World Cup and the Ashes. Here’s the list and the main things of note in those who have been included and excluded.

Cricket Australia men’s contract list 2021-22

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.

Takeaways from Australia’s central contract list

Travis Head’s loss is Cameron Green’s gain

The most surprising omission is perhaps that of Travis Head who comes off the back of a brilliant Sheffield Shield season for South Australia. Head made 893 runs in the seven games in the season, recording a highest score of 223 and averaging close to 70. Head was named in the Test team to tour South Africa before the tour was cancelled and given the load of runs he made in the Shield, it was surprising to see him miss out.

It does not mean he won’t get matches in the future, but with the trust placed in Cameron Green, the only player to score more than Head in the Shield season, it might be hard for Head to get game time. Green was awarded a central contract and showed enough promise in the Test series against India to warrant a long run. The terrific Shield season, where he made 922 runs at an average of 76.83, further backs up his case.

End of the road for Burns, but what of Pucovski?

The only Test opener to get a contract is David Warner. Will Pucovski, who is highly touted, made a promising half-century on debut but then fell victim to injury. Marcus Harris is missing too which means that the opener’s slot alongside David Warner is right now open. Pucovski aside, a few would be pushing to get a chance in the Australian Test side at the top in the upcoming season. Burns, however, is unlikely to be one of them with the 31-year-old’s failure in the India series meaning he is possibly dropped for good.

Matthew Wade missing out means Tim Paine’s job is safe for the foreseeable future

Slim batting returns and the series loss to a second-string Indian Test side at home put Tim Paine under scrutiny, and some wondered if a change in the helm might come by the start of the next season. However, the contracts say otherwise with Australia moving past Matthew Wade. Alex Carey, the limited-overs wicketkeeper, will seemingly be the back-up to Paine in the longest format. However, the bigger takeaway is that Paine will almost certainly lead the Aussie side in the Ashes later this year. Wade’s omission might not signal an end to his T20I role at the top and we could still see him in the T20 World Cup in India.

No contract for Marcus Stoinis

Marcus Stoinis, who was part of the list last season, misses out despite him being a prominent presence in the limited-overs setup. Stoinis will likely still be in their plans, but the shortened list has seen him miss out on a central contract. That said, we could see the likes of Green and Daniel Sams in the limited-overs format, pushing their case for more games if Stoinis cannot put in consistent performances.

Jhye Richardson as an all-format option

Jhye Richardson has made rapid strides with good domestic performances and Cricket Australia see him as an all-format option in the future.

“In the fast bowling ranks, Jhye Richardson is a player we believe has a big future across multiple formats and his return to the game has been strong,” national selection panel chairman, Trevor Hohns said at the announcement of the contract.

With the amount of limited-overs cricket in the near future with the T20 World Cup and the ODI Cricket World Cup Super League, Richardson could become a major part of the Australia setup.

Why are there only 17 players?

It’s strange that Australia have handed out contracts to only 17 players when the touring squads in these COVID-19 times will likely be large. What it could mean is that Australia want to test out their options outside the strong first-choice contenders. We could see players rotated in and out with the bench strength tested.

Trevor Hohns indicated that there will be forced workload management for the quicks too after the same pace attack was fielded throughout the India series. James Pattinson is the next pacer in line and is in the contract list. The likes of Michael Neser and Mark Steketee could also get the odd game here and there.

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