Australia axe Bracken, Clark for Ashes season

SYDNEY: Australia Wednesday culled fast bowlers Nathan Bracken and Stuart Clark from their roster for next season, when they will try to regain the Ashes from England and defend the World Cup.

Selectors also dropped batsmen Brad Hodge and David Hussey, and wicketkeeper Graham Manou, from the list of 25 centrally contracted players for 2010-2011 but retained veteran quick Brett Lee, despite his move to retire from Tests.

Fellow fast bowler Shaun Tait, a Twenty20 specialist, was also kept on for this year''s ICC World Twenty20 in the West Indies.

"We see him as an important member of the ICC World Twenty20 squad and (he has) a real chance to force his way back into the Australian 50-over side," said selection panel chairman Andrew Hilditch.

Batsman Phillip Hughes, 21, was given a chance to make amends for last year''s disappointing Ashes tour.

Fast bowlers Ryan Harris and Clint McKay, wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine, all-rounder Steven Smith and batsman Adam Voges all won selection for the first time.

"It is disappointing for Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken who have not received contracts for 2010-2011," Hilditch said.

"Not renewing their contracts was a very hard decision. The reality is that other bowlers have seized the opportunity over the last six months in both Test and limited-overs cricket."

Australia host England for the five-Test Ashes series from November and will aim for their third successive World Cup title in South Asia in February-March.

Contracted players:
Doug Bollinger, Michael Clarke, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Andrew McDonald, Clint McKay, Marcus North, Tim Paine, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shaun Tait, Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Cameron White