SYDNEY: Incumbent test batsman Alex Doolan and rising fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile are surprising omissions from Cricket Australia's list of centrally contracted players.
Doolan, who made his debut and played all three tests on Australia's recent tour victory in South Africa, missed out while fringe test batsmen Shaun Marsh and Phil Hughes were included on the list of 18 players.
Chairman of selectors John Inverarity on Monday said Doolan and Coulter-Nile, who was a regular member of Australian limited-overs squads this summer, were both unlucky.
"They were the two who would be the closest. Just two months ago, Alex hadn't played for Australia so his time is yet to come," Inverarity said.
The 28-year-old Doolan averaged 31 in six innings batting at No. 3 in South Africa, posting a highest score of 89.
"He's very much to the fore in our thinking. We'll be looking to him," Inverarity said. "He's the incumbent No. 3 so it's up to him to perform well and if he does he'll be upgraded."
The contracts are decided under a system in which the selectors rate players across all three forms of the game -- tests, one-day and Twenty20 internationals recognizing form over the past year rather than a prediction of how a player may perform in the future. Test match form carries an extra weighting in the event of any close decision between players.
Marsh and Hughes have both been members of the Australia test squad in recent seasons and performed well in limited-overs matches in the past year, earning their inclusion on the elite list.
Players who were awarded initial or upgraded contracts last year but did not receiving contracts for the coming 12 months include Ed Cowan, Pat Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Ben Hilfenhaus, Clint McKay, Matthew Wade, Usman Khawaja and Adam Voges. Coulter-Nile and Doolan were also on last season's larger list.
Brad Haddin's form as wicketkeeper in all three forms of the game has led to the exclusion of a second wicketkeeper from the contract list. But Inverarity the said the quality of wicketkeeper-batsmen playing at provincial first-class level was high and he was confident a replacement could be found if the 36-year-old Haddin was injured or lost form.
Contracted players: George Bailey, Michael Clarke, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Phil Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Chris Rogers, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson.