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Cummins the big winner in CA contract list

Pace ace Pat Cummins is set to complete a major comeback and be one of the big winners when Cricket releases its latest round of player contracts.

CA selectors and management will release what industry insiders expect to be a 20-man list by April 30, this coming at a time when CA’s general manager of team performance, Pat Howard, is close to announcing his own future.

Fairfax Media can reveal Cummins has vaulted into the top six of rankings, and is possibly behind only Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.

Cummins, 24 in May, has finally been able to take to the field consistently after a series of back stress fractures and he shapes as an enforcer and genuine match-winner in this summer’s Ashes series.

Six years after his first Test, he returned to the Test team on the recent tour of India, claiming eight wickets at 30.25 and bowling with considerable pace upon being drafted in for the third and fourth Tests.

He had a CA contract last summer but is now a fixture in the sport’s three formats. He has risen in the rankings to become one of ‘s prime movers, ensuring a payday of more than $1 million a year.

Cummins is also likely to be play a key role in the battle for the Champions Trophy in England in June, with the n squad to be named on Thursday.

Former n batsman David Hussey, who was promoting the tournament in Melbourne on Wednesday, said Cummins was a strike weapon.

“It’s amazing how he has come back – he has bowled fast, he fields very well and he bats quite well, too,” he said.

Skipper Smith and vice-captain Warner – having made about $2 million in the past year from international cricket – and fast bowlers Starc and Hazlewood will almost certainly be the top four ranked players.

Starc is on the mend from a foot fracture which forced him home midway through the Indian tour and is expected to be named in the Champions Trophy squad, but will need to pass a fitness test next month.

Batting all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, playing in the three formats having returned to the Test side in India, is also set to pocket a healthy raise.

Wicketkeeper Matthew Wade was not one of the 20 players awarded a CA contract this time last year, with Peter Nevill the only gloveman. But Wade enjoyed an upgrade when Nevill was axed and is likely to be the only gloveman on a list that can hold between 17 and 20 players.

Opening batsman Matthew Renshaw and middle-order dasher Peter Handscomb – both having impressed as part of a rebooted Test side – will be two of the fresh faces, and are likely to replace George Bailey and Joe Burns.

Left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe, who has again found himself in trouble after a night of heavy drinking, was also upgraded over summer but may again have to work for a contract under a “horses-for-courses” policy, despite a tour of Bangladesh slated for August.

Bangladesh officials continue to insist the tour must go ahead, despite CA’s preference for it to become only a one-day series and be delayed until October to work in with a one-day series in India.

Fast bowler James Pattinson, continuing his comeback in English county cricket, will retain his contract but fellow quicks Nathan Coulter-Nile, John Hastings, Peter Siddle and Jackson Bird, the latter having won an upgrade over summer, are jostling for probably three spots. There is speculation Queensland quick Billy Stanlake, having won selection in the one-day team last summer, could be the bolter.

Despite being on the long-term injury list because of a shoulder problem, Mitch Marsh is set to retain his contract. But industry insiders have questioned whether brother Shaun Marsh should remain part of selectors’ plans.

It’s understood the South n Cricket Association is hopeful leg-spinner Adam Zampa and all-rounder Travis Head are rewarded, with Head a chance to replace the retired Adam Voges.

The minimum value of a CA contract last summer was $270,000, with any player upgraded through the summer, having earned 12 upgrade points, given a base salary of $230,000.

This will rise when the stoush over a new memorandum of understanding between CA and the n Cricketers Association is resolved, although that appears some way off with CA yet to provide the players with more in-depth details about its recent submission.

Brisbane-based Howard, in Melbourne on Wednesday, is contracted until mid-year but it’s understood he used a recent week off to deliberate whether he wants to retain the high-pressure role. He took the job in 2011 after the sweeping Argus report and is weighing up whether to remain until after the 2019 Ashes campaign.

The role involves much travel and time away from his family of four children, while the former Wallaby also has a successful pharmacy business.

How things shape up for the 2017/18 CA rankings list:

Gone from 2016/17: Adam Voges (retired)

On the way out: George Bailey, Joe Burns, Peter Nevill (if only one wicketkeeper selected)

Under pressure: Nathan Coulter-Nile, John Hastings, Peter Siddle, Shaun Marsh

Fighting for a spot: Steve O’Keefe, Jackson Bird, Travis Head, Adam Zampa, Billy Stanlake

New faces: Matt Renshaw, Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade

Rubber-stamped: Steve Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Patrick Cummins, Aaron Finch, James Faulkner, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, James Pattinson, Glenn Maxwell

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