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Warne to get fresh contract
- ACB extension keeps spinner in scheme of things

Melbourne: Shane Warne has been included in an elite list of Australian cricketers to receive contracts for the 2003-04 international season despite currently serving a 12-month suspension for drug offences.

The disgraced leg-spinner was among the 25 players rewarded with contracts for the year starting from July 1 even though he is ineligible to play again until his ban ends next year.

Warne, 33, will be paid on a pro rata basis when his ban ends on February 10. Until then, he’s not allowed to play.

“Shane’s suspension ends in February and his contract will be reactivated then,” a spokesman said. “The charter for the selectors is to choose the best 25 players and the selectors obviously see Shane as being a part of that beyond February.”

After withdrawing from Australia’s World Cup campaign in South Africa before the start of the event, Warne admitted he had taken a “diet pill” which must have contained the banned substance.

The ACB’s contracted players are paid a base retainer, which is tiered according to a player ranking system devised by the national selection panel. They also receive match fees, tour fees and share of prize money.

The minimum retainer for the Australians for 2003-04 is US $77,600, an increase of $9,300 from 2002-2003. The match fees have increased ten per cent, with players receiving $7,500 for each Test and $3,000 for each ODI.

“With an average age of 29, the list for this year boasts a good mix of youth and experience and presents a talented crop from which to choose the Australian team,” ACB chief executive James Sutherland said.

“Like the selection of any squad, some players will be disappointed, but they can be comforted in the knowledge that exclusion from the list does not end the chance of gaining Australian selection at any stage this year,” Sutherland said.

The ACB awards contracts on two criteria: form in the last 12 months and the likelihood of Australian selection over the subsequent 12 months.

Mulling ODI return

Warne, meanwhile, said he is considering reversing his decision to quit limited-overs cricket. At that time, Warne said he had to quit ODIs to extend his Test career. Now, however, there seems to be a change in plans. “I retired from one-day cricket to prolong my Test career and at this stage that’s something I am reconsidering with the enforced layoff,” Warne said.

PLAYERS ON ACB LIST

Michael Bevan, Andy Bichel, Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Adam Gilchrist, Jason Gillespie, Ian Harvey, Nathan Hauritz, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Justin Langer, Brett Lee, Darren Lehmann, Martin Love, Stuart MacGill, Glenn McGrath, Jimmy Maher, Damien Martyn, Ashley Noffke, Ricky Ponting, Andrew Symonds, Shane Warne, Shane Watson, Steve Waugh, Brad Williams.

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