Once touted as an Australian captain in waiting, Travis Head has copped another rude setback after his international career stalled last summer.
Travis Head is among the high-profile exclusions from Cricket Australia’s contract list for 2021/2022.
Earmarked as a future Australian captain — and having already served as vice-captain — Head was dropped from the Test team during last summer’s series loss to India and has now lost his contract.
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Earlier reports indicated Matthew Wade and young gun Will Pucovski would also miss out — which proved to be the case — while West Australian all-rounder Cameron Green earned his first contract after a breakout summer that saw him make his Test and ODI debuts.
Head has come under fire for failing to convert promising starts in the middle order and even though he boasts a healthy average of 39.75, the 27-year-old has averaged less than 34 in five of his seven Test series to date.
He played the first two Tests against India last summer but was punted after mustering just 62 runs across three innings.
Golden boy Pucovski impressed on Test debut against India this year but failed to add to his solitary appearance in the baggy green after surrfering a serious shoulder injury in Sydney. He won’t play white ball cricket for Australia and concerns over his fitness as he continues to rehab convinced selectors to leave him out.
Other notable omissions include Joe Burns, who like Head was dropped midway through the India series, Mitchell Marsh and Marcus Stoinis, who all held contracts previously. Incumbent opener Marcus Harris was also overlooked.
James Pattinson was a surprise recipient, given the fast bowler hasn’t played for Australia since January 2020 and is a red-ball specialist when it comes to internationals. His last ODI was in 2015 and he hasn’t played a T20 for his country since 2012.
Seventeen players were handed contracts — down from the usual number of 20 — which national selector Trevor Hohns said was down to two main reasons.
“Firstly, we have seen format specialisation become increasingly prevalent in recent seasons which, accordingly, has resulted in a broader group of players representing Australia, often beyond the initial list of contracted players at the start of each year,” Hohns said.
“Secondly, we want to create an environment where players strive for national selection through consistent domestic performances and earn national contracts through consistent international performances.
“There will continue to be opportunities and support for players outside this group to represent Australia and earn an upgrade to a central contract with strong performances throughout the year.
“But in naming these 17 players, we believe we have a strong core group which cover all forms of the game for the 12 months ahead.”
CA Contract list 2021/2022: Ashton Agar, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Adam Zampa.