Wednesday, April 9, 2008

25 Australian cricketers awarded central contract

Cricket Australia opened the door for a new generation of cricketers Wednesday when it named the 25 players awarded contracts for the 2008/09 season.

With the retirement of Adam Gilchrist, Brad Hogg and Jason Gillespie, selectors opted for four new faces in the pool of players who will form the core of Australia's Test, one-day and Twenty20 sides for the upcoming season.

Batsman David Hussey, the brother of current Test star Michael, was among those handed a contract for the first time, as was Shaun Marsh, the son of former Test opener Geoff.

New South Wales state paceman Doug Bollinger's performances in the domestic competition also earned him a debut contract, along with teammate Beau Casson. Batsman Simon Katich and Queensland bowler Ashley Noffke were reinstated to the elite group after being dropped last season.

Selectors also kept faith with troubled fast bowler Shaun Tait, who surprised the cricketing world in January when he announced he would take an indefinite break from the game, citing "physical and emotional turmoil."

But opening bat Chris Rogers was a shock exclusion, paying the price for his failure to fill in for Matthew Hayden in the third Test loss to India last January, where he managed just 19 runs in two innings.

South Australian state spinners Cullen Bailey and Daniel Cullen were also dropped as selectors continue the search for a young tweaker to fill the void left by Shane Warne.

Selectors' chairman Andrew Hilditch said the contract list contained a balance experienced players and emerging talent.

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