Melbourne, Mar. 31 (ANI): With 47 in three home and away series in 2008-2009, Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson is all set to become the nation's highest-paid cricketer.
In the 25-man contract list likely to be announced next week, Australian selectors may promote Johnson to the No.2 spot, the Herald Sun reports.
Johnson's elevation will be a reward for his exceptional progress this summer, in which he took 14 wickets at 11 apiece in two Tests against New Zealand, and 17 wickets at 25.99 against South Africa in three Tests in Australia then 16 at 25 in South Africa. He also blossomed into low-order big-hitter with the bat.
The individual rankings are a closely guarded secret of Cricket Australia.
In deciding the rankings the selectors assess the contribution a player has made over the past year, and forecast what he is likely to achieve in the next contract period.
In both categories, Johnson's claims for a pay increase are substantial, because he is now considered the most critical player in the team.
Although top ranker Ponting continues to occasionally produce a masterful innings, he has averaged 39 or less in four of his past six series, indicating he is not the dominant force as was in his zenith.
While Ponting may retain his top ranking on the strength of his recent joint-Allan Border Medal win, Johnson is seen as the player who will follow him into the top spot if he can handle the upcoming matches well.
McGrath held the position, which currently commands an annual base contract fee of more than 800,000 dollars for at least three years.
Players likely to lose contracts are wrist spinner Beau Casson, fast bowler Ashley Noffke and batsman Brad Hodge, while Matthew Hayden's retirement will create space for Phillip Hughes.
Victorian fast bowler Peter Siddle is likely to rocket into the top 10 while Mike Hussey and Brett Lee, ever-presents in the top five in recent seasons, are expected to be handed pay cuts. (ANI)