No contract for Katich
Left-handed opener and North fail to secure central contracts
Last Updated: 07/06/11 8:31am
The international careers of Simon Katich and Marcus North's both look to be over after they were left off Cricket Australia's list of 25 contracted players for the next 12 months on Tuesday.
Patrick Cummins and James Pattinson were offered their first CA contracts and John Hastings, Xavier Doherty, Usman Khawaja, David Hussey and Jason Krejza also received permanent deals after being upgraded last summer.
However, the promotion of those seven means that Katich, North, their fellow batsman Adam Voges, all-rounders James Hopes and Andrew McDonald and fast bowlers Clint McKay and Shaun Tait were all axed.
There were also fresh deals for veteran quick bowlers Brett Lee and Ryan Harris even though both have struggled with serious injury problems in recent seasons.
The decision means that Katich, who turns 36 in August, has become the fall guy for the second time in three losing Ashes series.
Dropped soon after Australia lost the 2005 Ashes series in England, having made just two runs in three innings in the two Tests that followed later that year, Katich's untimely injury problems during last summer's series appear to have cost him dearly.
Sidelined after Australia lost the second Test in Adelaide, the left-handed opener now seems unlikely to add to his 56 Tests, which included 10 centuries and a top score of 157.
"Several players have unfortunately not been offered contracts this year," said national selection panel chairman Andrew Hilditch.
"The most notable of those is Simon Katich.
"Simon has been a fantastic player for Australia and a key and successful member of the Test team in recent years.
"However, amongst other matters, the NSP felt it was the right time now to start blooding our next opening partnership in preparation for the Ashes two years from now.
"The opening partnership is critical to the success of any team and takes time to develop the necessary experience at international level.
"We feel it is important this change is made now as we prepare for the challenges ahead."
New opening partnership
Left-hander Phil Hughes, who has already played 10 Tests but been unable to cement a place at the top of the order, is likely to be given the first chance at partnering Shane Watson, although Khawaja's impressive debut last summer will have him breathing down his fellow left-hander's neck.
With Test series to come against Sri Lanka and South Africa on the road and New Zealand and India at home in the next 12 months, selectors were keen to test some new players as they try to return Australia to the top of the rankings.
"The NSP is very pleased with the list which sees a blend of experienced, proven international players together with the best young talent in the country who we are sure is ready for the challenges ahead," Hilditch said.
"The NSP has added two exciting young fast bowling talents to the list in James Pattinson and Patrick Cummins.
"While some difficult decisions have been made, the NSP is very excited by the list chosen and in particular the addition of youth from both batting and bowling disciplines.
"We are confident these young players, in combination with our established senior players, will play a key role in ensuring Australian cricket returns to its rightful position as a leader in world cricket over the coming years."
Centrally-contracted players: Doug Bollinger (NSW), Michael Clarke (c, NSW), Patrick Cummins (NSW), Xavier Doherty (TAS), Callum Ferguson (SA), Brad Haddin (NSW), Ryan Harris (QLD), John Hastings (VIC), Nathan Hauritz (NSW), Ben Hilfenhaus (TAS), Phil Hughes (NSW), David Hussey (VIC), Michael Hussey (WA), Mitchell Johnson (WA), Usman Khawaja (NSW), Jason Krejza (TAS), Brett Lee (NSW), Shaun Marsh (WA), Tim Paine (TAS), James Pattinson (VIC), Ricky Ponting (TAS), Peter Siddle (VIC), Steve Smith (NSW), Shane Watson (NSW), Cameron White (VIC)