Usman Khawaja axed as Cricket Australia unveils contracts list

Usman Khawaja in action for Australia in India in 2019. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Marnus Labuschagne and Joe Burns have been included in Cricket Australia's contract list, with out-of-favour veteran Usman Khawaja headlining six expected omissions.

There were few surprises in the 20-strong group that national selectors picked to steer Australia through a challenging stretch that includes a Twenty20 World Cup and much-anticipated Test series against India.

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Khawaja and Marcus Harris both haven't played for Australia since last year's Ashes tour and lost their national contracts.

Nathan Coulter-Nile, Peter Handscomb, Shaun Marsh and Marcus Stoinis were also axed from the list, having been overlooked by selectors since featuring in last year's one-day World Cup.

Burns, who was recalled at the start of the previous home summer, has been elevated to the list alongside fellow Test batsmen Labuschagne and Matthew Wade.

Allrounder Mitch Marsh, paceman Kane Richardson and spinner Ashton Agar have also been given deals after being left off the original 2019-20 list.

The 33-year-old Khawaja, who was Australia's most important batsman during Warner and Steve Smith's suspension, hasn't come close to national selection since being dropped and is seemingly unlikely to add to his 44 Tests and 40 ODIs.

"As Mitch Marsh and Matthew Wade have proven there are always plenty of opportunities for those who have missed out to be re-selected by performing consistently at domestic level," chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said.

"And importantly to make the most of any opportunity that comes there way at international level.

"As is always the case there are unlucky omissions but, however, because you are not on the list does not mean you cannot be selected to represent Australia."

Marnus Labuschagne celebrates scoring a century against New Zealand in December. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Not the end of the road for axed players

Anybody can earn a national deal by accruing 12 upgrade points, with players earning five points for a Test, two for an ODI and one for a T20.

Burns, Labuschagne, Wade, Richardson, Agar and Mitch Marsh did exactly that in 2019-20.

There was public conjecture about Burns' place in the Test XI after a summer of starts, but Thursday's announcement suggests that selectors are yet to seriously contemplate breaking up his opening partnership with David Warner.

Glenn Maxwell hasn't played for Australia since a T20 last October, having taken a mental-health break then undergone elbow surgery that forced him to miss a recent tour of South Africa.

Selectors have retained Maxwell on the national list, confirming he remains part of their plans for 2020-21.

Cricket Australia 2020-21 contract list:

Ashton Agar, Joe Burns, Alex Carey, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Paine, James Pattinson, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa.