The perilous state of Australian cricket will be revealed when national contracts are handed out on Wednesday, with as many as 20 players in line for lucrative deals despite the Test team's recent woes.


The retirement of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey has freed up plenty of cash at the top of the contract list but, beyond captain Michael Clarke, there are few senior players deemed worthy of the richest contracts.


For that reason, the selectors were believed to be considering awarding the maximum number of deals so as to spread the money across a larger squad. That brings the likes of Glenn Maxwell, the Victorian allrounder who is yet to show more than flashes of brilliance at international level, into the frame. 


The selectors have the discretion to award between 17 and 20 national deals, and the horrendous recent performance in India would suggest there are not 17 players in the country worthy of the recognition.

To award more than that would reflect confusion ahead of back-to-back Ashes series.


Last year, the selectors handed out 17 contracts, but since then Ed Cowan, George Bailey, Phillip Hughes, Aaron Finch, Moises Henriques, Maxwell and Clint Mckay have been upgraded because they played enough matches for Australia.

This season, the smallest base contract was worth $230,000, while Clarke commanded the top deal of about $2 million.


Rising star Mitchell Starc is set to be a major beneficiary, almost certain to be ranked in the top five as one of the few to feature at international level in all three forms of the game will see him score well under the complex formula selectors use to rank their elite players.


Contracts are handed out to players based on their performances in the past 12 months and their likelihood for national selection in the next year.


Clarke's standing as the most important player in the country will be reflected by his No.1 ranking while Shane Watson and David Warner are also likely to feature prominently despite lean tours of India.


Phillip Hughes, Ed Cowan and Jackson Bird are tipped to be handed deals while Steve Smith, Moises Henriques and Maxwell are also in the frame.


Selectors are understood to be reluctant to pick more than one wicketkeeper which means Brad Haddin is set to miss out to Matthew Wade. Haddin, however, remains firmly in Australia's plans for the tour of England.


David Hussey is also likely to lose his contract after falling out of favour last summer.


The lack of batting depth in the country will again be reflected on the contract list.


The roster is likely to be dominated by fast bowlers, which is the only area where Australia can boast a strong depth of world-class stocks.


Despite not playing since October due to injuries, Pat Cummins will retain his contract so Cricket Australia can maintain control over the young gun's training program.

Possible list: Michael Clarke, Jackson Bird, Ed Cowan, Patrick Cummins, Xavier Doherty, George Bailey, Ryan Harris, Moises Henriques, Phillip Hughes, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson.