Pace pair among fresh faces on CA men's contract list

Cricket Australia announces a 23-strong group of centrally contracted men's players ahead of another blockbuster year

Bartlett 'on Aussie radar' for some time: Bailey

Pacemen Xavier Bartlett and Nathan Ellis have each landed themselves a lucrative Cricket Australia (CA) contract as part of a 23-man group for a 2024-25 schedule highlighted by a massive home Test series against India.

Bartlett (25) and Ellis (29) are joined by Victoria and Adelaide Strikers blaster Matt Short (28), and WA allrounder Aaron Hardie (25) as the four fresh faces – all internationally capped – on this year's central contract list, which begins after the T20 World Cup in June.

Though not originally offered CA deals for 2023-24, three of that quartet – Ellis, Short and Hardie – earned upgrades throughout the summer and have effectively retained their spots on the contract list.

CA contracted men's players 2024-25: Sean Abbott, Xavier Bartlett, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Aaron Hardie, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Jhye Richardson, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa

Short and Hardie both made their international debuts during last year's T20 series in South Africa, while Ellis featured heavily in Australia's ODI and T20I tour of South Africa, and T20 campaigns in India and New Zealand but missed the home white-ball series against the West Indies due to a rib injury.

"Matt, Aaron and Xavier have been extremely impressive in the early stages of their international careers," said national selection chair George Bailey. "Their performances and the way they have embraced the international stage has been exciting to watch.

"The panel believes they have strong futures and are deserved of their contracts as they work towards striving to become regulars in the Australian setup."

Slipping off the list are WA allrounders Ashton Agar and Marcus Stoinis, Victoria opener Marcus Harris, Queensland quick Michael Neser and the retiring David Warner.

Among that group, Harris played the most recent of his 14 Tests more than two years ago, while Neser (two ODIs) and Agar (one ODI) have barely been sighted in national colours in the past 12 months, appearing in South Africa last September as part of an understrength ODI squad in the lead-up to Australia's successful World Cup campaign in India.

Stoinis is perhaps the most notable omission, though the 34-year-old, who is currently playing with Lucknow Super Giants in the IPL, remains in the selection frame for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the Caribbean despite missing Australia's recent tour of New Zealand with a back injury.

Bartlett's Big Bash-leading 20 wickets in the Brisbane Heat's title-winning campaign earned him a pair of ODI caps against West Indies in February, and the right-armer, who boasts a classical outswinger with the new ball, made the most of his selections, taking a pair of four-wicket hauls.

Every ball of Bartlett's brilliant opening spell

That form was evidently enough to see him preferred for a CA contract over other pace-bowling hopefuls, including his Heat teammate Spencer Johnson, who has collected six international caps in the past eight months and was one of several players, alongside Tim David, Tanveer Sangha, Matthew Wade and Jason Behrendorff, who received contract upgrades in the 2023-24 window but are not on the upcoming year's list.

Ellis meanwhile, is the most experienced of the new additions to the contract list with 22 Australia caps after debuting in August 2021, and the Tassie paceman continues to be looked upon as a strong white-ball option behind Australia's 'big three' pace trio of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

Allrounders included, the national selection panel has included no fewer than 12 pace-bowling options among their 23, with WA pair Jhye Richardson and Lance Morris again making the cut. 

Richardson, 27, hasn't played international cricket since June 2022 owing to a horrible run of injuries, while 26-year-old tearaway Morris turned out in Australia colours for the first time in two ODIs against West Indies last month.

You'll want the best seat in the house for this season's action! Priority access for tickets opens June 4 – Register now