Brett Lee has been ranked as number one fast bowler for the first time by the Australian cricket selectors in a confidential 25-member contract list.
Glenn McGrath, who made a smooth return to formal training in Brisbane on Wednesday after a six-month hiatus, was ranked fourth behind top-paid trio -- Ricky Ponting, Lee and Adam Gilchrist, a media report said.
The last time McGrath was sidelined for about a year, in 2003-04 with an ankle injury, he was downgraded to No. 15 in a clear pointer the selectors thought his career was in danger of extinction.
But this time they have given him a rousing vote of confidence despite his age (36) and the fact that he has not played since January because of wife Jane's cancer scare.
"To be honest, I was really happy with the ranking because I wasn't sure where I would be," McGrath said before a net session which he bowled with typical control but at reduced pace.
"It was great that the selectors showed faith in me. It has given me a lot of confidence. It does help."
McGrath, with 542 wickets from his 119 Tests, is unsure of when he will return to the Australian side, though he is ambitiously chasing 600 Test wickets.
Test selector Allan Border would like him to have several Pura Cup games before the first Ashes Test against England in Brisbane starting on November 23, but McGrath has said he would like to tour India with the Australian one-day side for the Champions Trophy tournament in October-November.