Melbourne: Veteran batsman Simon Katich and pacer Shaun Tait were dropped, while Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja was included in Cricket Australia's list of 25 annually contracted players announced on Tuesday.

The new entrants in the list are Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, John Hastings, David Hussey, Usman Khawaja, Jason Krejza and James Pattinson.

"Doherty, Hastings, Hussey, Khawaja and Krejza ended 2010-11 as contracted players after earning sufficient upgrade points while Cummins and Pattinson have been awarded contracts for the first time," Cricket Australia said in a statement.

"Departing the list of Cricket Australia’s central contracts are batsmen Simon Katich, Marcus North and Adam Voges, all-rounder James Hopes and Andrew McDonald and the fast bowlers Shaun Tait and Clint McKay.
 
CA said the list was decided on the basis of the "form of the players over the past 12 months and their likelihood of Australian selection over the next 12 months."

Australia's National Selection Panel Chairman Andrew Hilditch said the NSP has tried to encourage youngsters for the upcmoing series.

"The next 12 months is a very important period in Australian cricket. It will undoubtedly be a tough and demanding period as we play three of the world's top four Test nations during away series against Sri Lanka and South Africa and home series against New Zealand and India," Hilditch said.

"The NSP has added two exciting young fast bowling talents to the list in James Pattinson and Patrick Cummins.

James has tasted international cricket and we see him as a young man of immense talent who is made of the right stuff to succeed at the higher level. Patrick Cummins is an exceptional talent who has impressed with his opportunities to date for New South Wales and it will be very exciting to watch his progress," he added.

Hilditch praised Khawaja's performance in the chances that he has got so far.

"The list also includes some of our best young batting talent with Shaun Marsh, Phillip Hughes and Usman Khawaja all receiving contracts. Usman receives his first full contract
after debuting in the fifth Ashes Test at the SCG and we see him as a very important player for the future of Australian cricket," he said.

Talking about the ones who have been dropped from the list, Hilditch said Katich is especially unlucky to miss out given that he has not done too badly.

"Several players have unfortunately not been offered contracts this year. The most notable of those is Simon Katich. Simon has been a fantastic player for Australia and a key and successful member of the Test team in recent years," he said.

"However, amongst other matters, the NSP felt it was the right time now to start blooding our next opening partnership in preparation for the Ashes two years from now. The opening partnership is critical to the success of any team and takes time to develop the necessary experience at international level. We feel it is important this change is made now as we prepare for the challenges ahead," he explained.

The 2011-12 Cricket Australia contracted players are:


Doug Bollinger, Michael Clarke, Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes,
David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shane
Watson, Cameron White.

(Agencies)