MELBOURNE: Top-order batsman Usman Khawaja has been omitted from Australia’s annual list of twenty contracted players in 2020.
Khawaja had fallen out of favour with selectors midway through last year’s Ashes. The 33-year-old lefthander has not played for the test side since being dropped after the third test against England in Leeds last August.
“With many of the squad crossing into all three formats it gives us the benefit of being able to add in specialists depending on the opposition and the conditions,” chief selector Trevor Hohns said in a statement. “The depth of this squad and the success of the past 12 months gives us that solid base.”
“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,” Hohns said.
Khawaja is among a slew of contracted players to miss out on new deals including fellow batsmen Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris and Shaun Marsh, fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile and all-rounder Marcus Stoinis. In their place, Marnus Labuschagne, Ashton Agar, Joe Burns, Mitchell Marsh, Kane Richardson and Matthew Wade have all been rewarded.
All-rounder Mitchell Marsh returned but there was no room for his brother Shaun. Mitchell Marsh was not offered a contract last year but Hohns said his form showed “he has a lot of international cricket ahead of him as a batting all-rounder”.
Prolific middle-order batsman Marnus Labuschagne was among the new faces. “Marnus’s rise has been meteoric and well documented,” Hohns said. “Joe has been a good Test match player, Ashton Agar’s form in T20 internationals has been exceptional, while Kane Richardson has been outstanding in the T20 and one-day games.”
There is uncertainty over the cricket calendar and the Twenty20 World Cup because of the coronavirus pandemic. Australia’s tour to England for three one-dayers and three Twenty20 matches in July is in jeopardy after the England and Wales Cricket Board delayed the start of their season until at least July 1.
Australia contracted players: 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, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.