Cricket Australia announced the list of centrally contracted players for the upcoming year on Thursday, April 30. There were few new names with the likes of Marnus Labuschagne, Ashton Agar Joe Burns and so on receiving a central contract. However, one name that has come as a surprise is the exclusion of left-hander Usman Khawaja.
Cricket Australia have left out several players from their central contracts including the names of Usman Khawaja, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Handscomb, Marcus Harris, Shaun Marsh, Marcus Stoinis and Ashton Turner, Peter Siddle (retire from all forms of cricket). On the other hand, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Ashton Agar, Joe Burns, Kane Richardson and Matthew Wade have made a cut to the contracts list.
However, the decision to not hand Usman Khawaja a central contract has been questioned severely and former captain Michael Clarke was amongst the notable ones to do so. According to The Times of India, Michael Clarke was surprised at the news of the southpaw not receiving a contract. Michael Clarke found it hard to believe that someone who is as experienced and talented as Khawaja was denied a spot amongst the 20 contracted cricketers by Cricket Australia.
At the same time, Michael Clarke was confident that there isn’t anything personal on the coach’s part to refuse Usman Khawaja a contract. The reason why there are speculations about Justin Langer playing a part in Usman Khawaja's exclusion is because of his clashes with the Australian coach that were shown in the Australian documentary series The Test.
The duo had some differences of opinions with regards to the way Khawaja batted while Australia were playing Pakistan in the UAE. Selector Trevor Hohns also claimed that Usman Khawaja’s exclusion was one of the toughest decisions. Another prominent figure who was axed from the contract list is all-rounder Marcus Stoinis.