Cricket Australia yesterday released the names of those players they have offered contracts to for the 2011-2012 season. Andrew Hilditch, current chairman of selectors, updated the world on the latest inclusions to the contract listing as well as a couple of big names that have had their contracts torn up. In a period where there is an expectation of CA to prepare for the future and also quickly remedy the increasing problem of performing in Test match cricket, the public needed to see that Hilditch and CA were prepared to make changes. Well, they certainly haven’t disappointed!
In terms of exclusions Simon Katich, James Hopes, Andrew McDonald, Clint McKay, Marcus North, Shaun Tait and Adam Voges are the unlucky players to miss out on a new contract.
Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, John Hastings, David Hussey, Usman Khawaja, Jason Krejza and James Pattinson are the players who have been granted a contract within CA. This makes the list of players who have a contract look a little something like this –
Doug Bollinger, Michael Clarke, Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
The call to not renew Simon Katich’s contract is a tough call that won’t be accepted by a large number of people. Katich has been one of the most consistent batsmen that Australia has had over the last few years, being near the top of runs scored per year each year since his re-introduction into the Australia team in 2008. While a large number of people will be unhappy with his axing, it does show that CA and the selection panel may finally be making some changes within the team and the outlook they have moving forward. As for Marcus North being dropped, it was always going to happen and as opposed to the way everyone could be feeling about Katich, most people would probably be glad North won’t be around.
A couple, other than Katich, who could consider themselves unlucky are Andrew McDonald and Clint McKay. McDonald performed well when he got his opportunity, a very slim one at that, and is in some great form at the moment over in England. Clint McKay was a great bowler in the ODI’s for Australia and possibly with some more chances to be around the team, could have become a better Test bowler.
I am really glad to see the inclusions of Patrick Cummins and James Pattinson, both are very exciting young fast bowlers and if started in the Test team now we could see them grow into top-line international bowlers. Put one, or both, of those young guns in the side along with two of Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson or Doug Bollinger and we can be considered looking to future. Hopefully the selectors chosoe to go with that sort of a setup seeing as that is what the side has needed for the last couple of years, an injection of youth that can play for 10+ years and perform.
The contracts given to Nathan Hauritz, Xavier Doherty and Jason Krejza still show that the selectors are unsure which spinner to choose in the team. Although most people think he is crap, Hauritz has got to be the first choice for the selectors as he has done the most when given his chances. We need to stop believing that any spinner can equal the heights reached by Shane Warne and take 7 odd wickets a game. If a spinner gets 2 wickets an innings I believe they have done their job. Krejza was given his chance in the World Cup and failed badly, rarely taking a wicket and leaking runs at an alarming rate. Doherty performed well in Australia for the ODI’s and perhaps deserves his chance again, however as I said, I believe that all depends on the fitness of Hauritz.
My makeup for the Australian Test team would be as follows with the current contracts –
With Usman Khawaja, Patrick Cummins and Doug Bollinger to be rotated into the team due to injuries or the strange “rest” policy CA seems to have going on.
Two players that I’m disappointed haven’t gotten a contract, because then we would really be looking to the future, are Mitchell Marsh and Steve O’Keefe. Both bright prospects and should be given the opportunity to be 12th men in a Test series to get a feel for what it’s like around the international team.