Fast bowler Mitchell Starc leads a list of 20 players under Australia captain Michael Clarke named to Cricket Australia’s contracted list for this season, which includes back-to-back Ashes series and follows the team’s demoralizing four-Test defeat in India.
Left-armer Starc, who frequently led Australia in all forms of the game, including some strong batting performances, was reported to have been one of the big winners with a US$1 million contract. Clarke is the highest-paid with about US$2 million a season.
Ex-captain Ricky Ponting and veteran batsman Michael Hussey, who were on last year’s list, have retired, while David Hussey, Michael’s 35-year-old brother, was excluded after the selectors’ decision to concentrate on younger players.
David Hussey’s international career appears to be over. He has played 69 one-day matches and 39 Twenty20s for Australia.
Paceman Jackson Bird, allrounder Moises Henriques, Usman Khawaja and Steve Smith also missed out on contracts, but they remain under consideration for the Ashes and one-day selection.
George Bailey, Ed Cowan, James Faulkner, Phillip Hughes, Glenn Maxwell and Clint McKay all retained their places after earning upgrades during the last contract period.
Aussie national selector John Inverarity yesterday said the list reflects the renewed focus on the Ashes after a “poor” India tour.
“Speaking with Michael Clarke and others, we’re all very excited about the Ashes and our focus is very much on that at the moment,” Inverarity said.
For the first time, Australia and England will play back-to-back Ashes series — 10 consecutive Tests. The first of five Tests in England is on July 10 in Nottingham.