Agar, Stoinis, Behrendorff and Tye go freelance without WA contracts

Ashton Agar picked up key wickets Getty Images

The landscape of how Australian cricketers are contracted is significantly shifting with Ashton Agar, Marcus Stoinis, Jason Behrendorff and Andrew Tye all being left off Western Australia's contract list, giving them flexibility to take freelance franchise opportunities.

All four would be walk-up starts in WA's first-choice Marsh Cup 50-over team and have not retired from international cricket but none are on WA's contract list for 2024-25. It comes after Agar and Stoinis were left off Cricket Australia's 2024-25 contract list while Behrendorff is Australia's reigning T20I player of the year.

Agar's absence is the most significant of the four as the 30-year-old elected not to take a state contract to pursue freelance opportunities globally, in part driven by the lack of cricket he played late last season having fallen by Corey Rocchiccioli as WA's No. 1 Sheffield Shield spinner.

Agar has made the decision in consultation with WA's general manager of high performance Kade Harvey, WA coach Adam Voges, Australia coach Andrew McDonald and Australia's chairman of selectors George Bailey.

Not taking a contract frees Agar up to play franchise cricket during the Australian summer, with the SA20, ILT20, BPL and PSL all played during Australia's domestic season.

Tye signed a one-year deal last season with WA which did prevent him from playing in the ILT20 earlier this year due to the Marsh Cup final. He has opted to go freelance again as he did for the two seasons prior. Behrendorff will go freelance for the first time in his career having earned a CA upgrade last year. He had a year to run on his previous WA deal but opted to terminate it early to give him more flexibility.

However, Agar, Behrendorff and Tye will all remain involved in WA's program when they are not playing franchise cricket overseas even though they aren't contracted and will be selected for Marsh Cup games when available. Agar is still keen to play Shield cricket whenever an opportunity may arise. All four would only need to play four Marsh Cup matches to qualify for a contract upgrade if they opted to take it.

"Ashton, Jason and AJ will continue to be supported by our High Performance program as valued members of the WA Cricket setup," Harvey said.

Stoinis, 34, is in a slightly different situation, having not played for WA at all last season and only played four Shield matches and two Marsh Cup games since March 2020.

He had long been planning to go freelance after missing out on a CA deal for 2024-25 but he is still keen to play for Australia beyond the T20 World Cup in June in both T20I and ODI cricket. It is understood that he is exploring the possibility of signing something akin to a year-round deal with his IPL franchise Lucknow Super Giants which would see him commit to playing for the franchise's various teams across a few different tournaments around the world across the calendar year. He has already played for Durban's Super Giants in the SA20 and LSG in the IPL this year.

Stoinis has signed a three-year deal with the Melbourne Stars until the end of the 2026-27 BBL season. He also played for San Francisco Unicorns in Major League Cricket last year and is expected to play in season two after the T20 World Cup despite not being retained by Unicorns. He has previously played in the Hundred but missed last year's tournament to rest ahead of the ODI World Cup.

Stoinis said earlier this year he was still open to playing for WA when available, including Shield cricket. Stoinis has long-standing relationships with many people at WA cricket and it is understood further discussions may be had around his playing schedule later in the year.

Meanwhile, WA have added former New South Wales wicketkeeper Baxter Holt and Victoria quick Brody Couch to their squad. Holt is a replacement for Josh Philippe who departed for NSW and looks likely to get plenty of opportunities in Shield cricket while Josh Inglis is away on international duty. Couch is looking for a fresh start having played his only Shield match for Victoria in 2021 and the last of his six Marsh Cup appearances in 2022.

"Securing another wicketkeeper was a priority with Josh Philippe leaving for New South Wales," Harvey said. "We think Baxter has lots of potential with the bat and gloves, so we're excited to see how he goes when an opportunity presents.

"Brody generates good pace and bounce and loves the contest. We really like his raw attributes, which should be well-suited to the conditions in WA."

WA have also elevated Jayden Goodwin to their senior list after his excellent Shield season last year.

Western Australia contract list 2024-25: Cameron Bancroft, Mahli Beardman (rookie), Hilton Cartwright, Cooper Connolly, Brody Couch, Keaton Critchell, Sam Fanning, Cameron Gannon, Cameron Green (CA contract), Sam Greer (rookie) Jayden Goodwin, Aaron Hardie (CA), Liam Haskett, Baxter Holt, Josh Inglis (CA), Bryce Jackson, Matthew Kelly, Mitchell Marsh (CA), Lance Morris (CA), Hamish McKenzie, Joel Paris, Corey Rocchiccioli, D'Arcy Short, Charlie Stobo, Ashton Turner, Josh Vernon (rookie), Corey Wasley (rookie), Sam Whiteman, Teague Wyllie