Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja detail emerges amid brutal Aussie cricket snubs

The Aussie opening duo appear to have no real candidates pushing to take over.

Australian openers Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja appear to have no real candidates pushing to take their positions - in the eyes of Cricket Australia - after a number of players were snubbed for contracts. Marcus Stoinis and Michael Neser would have been left frustrated after the duo were left off the 25-person contract list for the 2024/25 season.

However, other big omissions included all three openers Marcus Harris, Matt Renshaw and Cameron Bancroft. The trio were snubbed signalling the race to become the future opener of the national team is wide open.

Steve Smith reacts and Smith and Usman Khawaja celebrate.
Aussie openers Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja appear to have no real candidates to replace them after Cricket Australia's latest contract list. (Getty Images)

With the numbers of Smith and Khawaja also showing a decline in runs for the duo, this could become an issue for the national team going forward. Smith averaged 28.50 in four Tests as opener this summer after moving up to take David Warner's place. The 34-year-old has faced fierce criticism over the move at such a late stage in his career. On the back of a lean run of form, Smith's ICC Test rankings points dropped below 800 for the first time since 2014.

The worrying 10-year low saw Smith drop one place to third in the ICC Test batting standings behind England's Joe Root and No.1-ranked batter Kane Williamson. While Smith was still seeing a decline in runs at No.4, the 34-year-old has struggled in the opening role against the fresh red-ball. And Khawaja has only performed slightly better.

Khawaja, the long-time opening partner of Warner, is also nearing the end of his Test career. He averaged 34.38 last summer and will turn 38 midway through next season's Border-Gavaskar Trophy series. Both will be given plenty of time to gel as openers going forward, but the lack of competition for the duo appears to be a worry for Australia.

Renshaw was selected as a replacement for Smith and Khawaja if they were to be injured in the West Indies series or New Zealand tour. But his contract snub appears to signal Cricket Austrlia are looking in a different direction.

Cameron Bancroft celebrates.
Cameron Bancroft (pictured) has missed out on a Cricket Australia contract. (Steve Bell via Getty Images)

Bancroft could find himself the most unfortunate having finished first and second for most runs in the Sheffield Shield across the last two campaigns. Many believed Bancroft should have directly replaced Warner when he retired, but Smith's move up the order allowed Cameron Green's return to the starting XI.

Bancroft averaged 48.62 across 17 innings in the Sheffield Shield this season, but appears no closer to earning a Test recall. With a huge five-Test series coming up against India at the end of 2024, Australian cricket fans might be closer to finding out who should be opening the batting for the nation heading forward.

Marcus Stoinis missed out on contract

Arguably the biggest omission from the contract group was Stoinis. The 33-year-old allrounder found himself on the periphery of the Aussie starting XI in the One Day International World Cup last year.

The allrounder has only passed 50 once for Australia since the beginning of 2022. This was against Sri Lanka in October 2022. While his bowling remains a great option for Australia, Stoinis is fighting for his position in the T20 team ahead of the World Cup. The likes of Tim David, Short and Glenn Maxwell appear to be ahead of Stoinis in the line-up.

Stoinis injured himself against the West Indies and wasn't able to take part in the New Zealand white-ball series to prove his worth ahead of the World Cup. He is currently playing in the Indian premier League with the Lucknow Giants and failed to fire in his first game under new coach Justin Langer.