County directors call for urgent review of standard contracts amid franchise exodus

County cricket directors have expressed the need for an “urgent” review of standard contracts in response to the increasing number of players representing multiple franchises during the English winter. With the majority of county cricketers being on 12-month contracts but the domestic season running only from April to September, players are seeking opportunities overseas in […]

County cricket directors have expressed the need for an “urgent” review of standard contracts in response to the increasing number of players representing multiple franchises during the English winter. With the majority of county cricketers being on 12-month contracts but the domestic season running only from April to September, players are seeking opportunities overseas in franchise tournaments during the off-season.

Alec Stewart, the director of cricket at Surrey, raised concerns over the situation, highlighting the challenges faced by counties when players return from playing in franchise competitions and require additional support and resources. Stewart emphasized the need for players to receive coaching, medical treatment, and rehabilitation upon their return.

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In a recent meeting held at The Oval, the directors of cricket discussed the matter and issued a statement requesting representation on future performance committees or working groups to utilize their experience in shaping the English game. They acknowledged that the current arrangement restricts clubs’ control over players’ off-season movements, resulting in increased costs for medical support and staff to ensure player readiness and recovery. The statement emphasized the necessity for more flexibility in player contracts to accommodate the interests of both clubs and players.

The rise in the number of players participating in winter tournaments over the past few years, coupled with the imminent launch of the US Major League, presents a significant challenge for all stakeholders involved. The directors of cricket acknowledge that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA), and county chief executive officers also recognize the need for a review. They expressed their desire to contribute directly to the discussions on this matter.

While some players already have white-ball-only contracts with counties, the PCA has cautioned against contracting more players exclusively for specific windows, as it could potentially undermine the red-ball game and the Test team. Daryl Mitchell, the PCA’s Chief Operating Officer, expressed concerns about the potential impact on the financial stability of the English game, as the Test team serves as its foundation. He argued that removing the comprehensive support package, including coaching and medical assistance, could make career decisions easier for players but in a direction that may not benefit the sport.