Ashton Agar, Marcus Harris lose Cricket Australia contracts as Xavier Bartlett rewarded

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National selection chief George Bailey has urged Test hopefuls including Marcus Harris to make a “compelling case to displace” anyone from the current line-up after he and and white-ball spinner Ashton Agar were among four players who lost their Cricket Australia contracts.

Bailey also projected Queensland fast bowler Xavier Bartlett could play all three formats for Australia after he was added to the 23-player list.Test hopeful Marcus Harris and white-ball spinner Ashton Agar were among four players who lost their Cricket Australia contracts as boom Queensland fast bowler Xavier Bartlett was added to the 23-player list.

White-ball slugger Matt Short, Western Australia all-rounder Aaron Hardie and Tasmanian quick Nathan Ellis joined Bartlett, who made a stunning ODI debut at the MCG, as new additions to the list.

But Harris, who was overlooked as an opening replacement for David Warner when he retired, has lost his place in the pecking order, with Agar and all-rounders Marcus Stoinis and Michael Neser also axed from the central list.

Warner also lost his contract following his Test and ODI retirement, with his final T20 games for Australia set to take place at the upcoming World Cup.

In leaving out Harris, recent test back-up batter Matt Renshaw and Sheffield Shield run-machine Cameron Bancroft, Bailey said there was now a “blank page” for aspirants to make a case for higher honours, backing in the current Test batting order including Steve Smith as an opener.

“… I guess a blank page is a good way of describing it. Marcus Harris is one who has come off contract but he’s firmly in that mix as well. Cam Bancroft and Nathan McSweeney have had wonderful seasons as well,” he said.

“Given the performances of the team over a period of time, I think the onus is on those outside to make a really compelling case of why someone should be displaced.

“I do think that the guys we have there are in the team for a reason, that top seven are all very good players, they’ve had good performances across a long period of time.

“We’ll continue to back them and expect them to perform.”

Harris played the most recent of his 14 Tests more than two years ago and with both Matthew Renshaw, who was the extra batsman with the Test squad in New Zealand and Sheffield Shield run machine Cameron Bancroft also overlooked, there remains no obvious replacements should the Steve Smith opening experiment end.

Agar has played just a single ODI in the past 12 months and has battled ongoing calf injuries.

Stoinis was axed from the ODI side over the summer after playing at last year’s World Cup but remains in contention for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the Caribbean despite missing Australia’s recent tour of New Zealand with a back injury.

Bartlett’s rapid rise has earned him a big payday after taking a Big Bash-leading 20 wickets in the Brisbane Heat’s title-winning campaign and a pair of four-wicket hauls in his first two ODI games for Australia against the West Indies where he was named player of the series.

Bailey said there was potential for him to become a three-format player.

“Absolutely. We have had Xavier on the radar for some time,” he said.

“The challenge for him has been getting some ciontuity on the park. To be able to get some international cricket into him was fantastic, certainly liked the skillset across all three formats.

“Hopefully another huge 12 months ahead for him.”

CA contracted men’s players 2024-25: Sean Abbott, Xavier Bartlett, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Aaron Hardie, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Lance Morris, Todd Murphy, Jhye Richardson, Matt Short, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Adam Zampa.

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