Marnus Labuschagne earns Cricket Australia central contract, Usman Khawaja misses out

Australian batsman Marnus Labuschagne has been awarded for his stellar performance last year by handing him the central contract by Cricket Australia for the 2020-21 season.

The 25-year-old, who came in for Australia’s swashbuckling batsman Steve Smith as cricket’s first concussion substitute during last year’s Ashes Test in Lord’s, is among the six new players who are named in the central contract list of 35 members released by the national selectors.

Since his debut, Labuschagne had experienced a dream Test run, scoring 1,249 runs in nine matches he played at an astounding average of 83.26.

Besides Labuschagne, Joe Burns, Ashton Agar, Mitchell Marsh, Kane Richardson and Matthew Wade are the other five players who are awarded the contract.

Meanwhile, experienced batsman Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Marcus Harris, Peter Handscomb and Marcus Stoinis are among the players who have missed out on the contract.

Reflecting on the CA list of centrally contracted players, men’s national selector Trevor Hohns said Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade have earned the contract after proving themselves in last one year.

Hohns further said that those who have missed out on selection could earn the contract next year by coming out with consistent performances at domestic level.

“As Mitch Marsh and Matthew Wade have proven, there are always plenty of opportunities for those who have missed out to be re-selected by performing consistently at domestic level; and importantly to make the most of any opportunity that comes their way at international level,” the CA official website quoted Hohns as saying.

“As is always the case there are unlucky omissions but, however, because you are not on the list does not mean you cannot be selected to represent Australia,” he added.

In the women’s list, all-rounder Tahlia McGrath, who has not featured for the national side since 2017, is a surprise inclusion.

While Annabel Sutherland and Tayla Vlaeminck have also been named in the list, Elyse Villani, Erin Burns and Nicole Bolton are the notable absentees.

Women’s national selector Shawn Flegle said that McGrath has been rewarded for her brilliant season with the Adelaide Strikers in Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) and South Australia in Sheffield Shield.

“Tahlia McGrath had a brilliant season with the Adelaide Strikers and South Australia, winning the Andrea McCauley medal. She’s been a consistent performer over the last few seasons with bat and ball, including the five matches she played for Australia during the 2017 Ashes series,” she said.

Players who are not awarded contracts as part of the initial squad can earn upgrades throughout the year by accruing 12 upgrade points, with Tests worth five points, ODIs two points and T20s one point for men, and Tests worth four points and ODIs and T20s two each for women.

The full lists are as follows:

CA men’s contract list: Ashton Agar, Joe Burns, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

CA women’s contract list: Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Delissa Kimmince, Meg Lanning, Tahlia McGrath, Sophie Molineux, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Tayla Vlaeminck, Georgia Wareham