Australian selectors have handed a central contract to young opening batsman Phillip Hughes, giving five other players contracts for the first time while Andrew Symonds is also on the list of 25 players who are contracted for the 2009/10 season.
20-year-old burst onto the international scene with two hundreds in his debut series in South Africa while Marcus North, another man who made a century on debut in that series, is also handed a contract, along with Callum Ferguson, Graham Manou, Andrew McDonald and Peter Siddle.
All-rounder Symonds, who has only recently returned to the Australian national side following a series of off-the-field incidents, has been rewarded with a new contract as Beau Casson, Phil Jaques, Ashley Noffke, Shaun Tait and Adam Voges did not have their contracts renewed.
Nathan Hauritz is back on the centrally contracted list with Cameron White the other specialist spinner. Also missing from last year's list are Matthew Hayden and Stuart MacGill, who both retired in the last 12 months.
“The NSP is extremely happy with this 25-strong contract list. It’s obviously an important time for Australian cricket with the Ashes on the horizon," National Selection Panel Chairman Andrew Hilditch said.
"I can’t talk specifically about Ashes selection today as that will be finalised next Wednesday morning.
“With respect to one-day cricket, we’re building towards the 2011 ICC World Cup and that was strong in our thoughts when finalising this list.
“It’s obviously a very exciting time for players receiving their first contract, such as Phillip Hughes, who has had an outstanding start for Australia and will have an important role in the team’s future.
“Peter Siddle has had an outstanding debut season and richly deserves his contract. Andrew McDonald, Marcus North and Nathan Hauritz have been rewarded for their performances in South Africa and Nathan had an excellent one-day tournament against Pakistan recently.
“Callum Ferguson has had an impressive debut in one-day cricket and will be an important part of our future in that form of the game. He’ll be looking to take every opportunity to force his way into Test cricket.
“Graham Manou has been named as the other wicket-keeper on the list. No-one can doubt his credentials following his performance in state cricket over the last two seasons, in all forms of the game.”
Contracted players are paid a base retainer while they also receive match fees, tour fees and prize money for on-field success.
Australia Centrally Contracted List: Doug Bollinger, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brad Hodge, James Hopes, Phillip Hughes, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, Graham Manou, Shaun Marsh, Andrew McDonald, Marcus North, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson, Cameron White
© Cricket World 2009