The England and Wales Cricket Board’s proposed revamping of the central contract structure, which could see the introduction of standalone deals for one-day players for the first time, is a positive step forward.
Currently, central contracts are handed to the mainstays of the Test set-up, while fringe players and those featuring in limited-overs cricket are given Increment Contracts, where a flat fee is paid on top of a county contract.
Under the amended structure, red-ball and white-ball players are set to be treated as separate entities, so players representing England in the different formats will be awarded two salaries.
Times are changing and the one-day players are getting a lot of exposure but not necessarily a reward which is appropriate – the Increment Contracts are a long way off the central contract salary of £700,000.
While attitudes towards England players competing at the Indian Premier League appear generally more relaxed, not all get to play in the big tournaments around the world so the new one-day contracts, believed to be worth up to £160,000 in some cases, seem fair.
I know it doesn’t always go down well with counties, but having these players under contract also gives England much greater control on how much cricket they are exposed to. Schedules can be amended to keep players fresh and help extend careers.
It’s a massive honour to be awarded a central contract as it’s recognition of all the work you’ve put in. You’re simply not going to be handed one unless you’ve performed.
My own central contract, which I was given in September 2011, came off the back of a successful Ashes tour and good performances against Sri Lanka and India that summer.
Unfortunately, I didn’t play too much cricket when I had my deal because of injury, but through that I did get access to the best medical care which eventually saw me return to action.
Representing England is the biggest honour you can have, but like in any sport certain rewards are a byproduct of that. A central contract, which is way more than your bog-standard county contract, is just a part of that.
It’s not unreasonable to think that if you’re playing all forms of cricket and performing well over a period of a few years that you could make a couple of million.
We’ve always been quite traditional in our outlook in this country with Test cricket being the pinnacle, and so it should be. I hope it stays that way but limited-overs cricket is becoming more and more popular around the world. Extra rewards for the one-day players are simply a reflection of that.
The proposed new deals also highlight the changing attitudes of the ECB towards the shorter forms of the game, which is crucial given massive tournaments like next year’s Champions Trophy and the 2019 World Cup are being staged in this country.