Reaction to Flintoff's contract refusal September 17, 2009

Clark has 'grave fears' for cricket's future

Cricinfo staff

Australian player agent Neil Maxwell said players will begin to opt for money over the baggy green and Stuart Clark has said he holds "grave fears" for the future of cricket in the wake of Andrew Flintoff's decision to go freelance. Flintoff's rejection of a £30,000 incremental ECB contract has opened the door for him to earn big money in various Twenty20 competitions including the IPL.

It's that lure that Clark believes could be dangerous for younger players, who are still trying to make their way in the game. Clark said on Sydney's Big Sports Breakfast radio show that he had noticed some of his young New South Wales team-mates becoming excited about the prize money on offer at next month's Champions League Twenty20 in India, where the winning team pockets US$2.5 million.

"What scares me the most is where does it leave the game if people just go chasing large sums of money for a bit of hit-and-giggle," Clark said. "I think we as players all owe it to Test cricket to try and keep it afloat.

"I know the administration is working hard at it, but I personally hold grave fears for where the game is heading. But while tournaments like the Champions League are very lucrative, I'd personally like to think at this stage the players at New South Wales would prefer to play for Australia."

That might be the case in the immediate future but according to Maxwell, cricket should brace itself for more players following the Flintoff route. Maxwell said it was unlikely that it would only be older players like Flintoff who could go for the free-agent option, which would also be attractive to younger cricketers.

"I think more and more players are going to freelance over time when you look at the laughable situation of Flintoff potentially being offered a £30,000 contract, [but] all of his image rights and everything would be handed over," Maxwell told the Age. "You're going to get both ends of the [age] spectrum, because the next generation of player is going to be focused on building a career, and Twenty20 is going to offer him far more options than playing for his country.

"You are going to get a generational change. It's going to be the dollar or the baggy green, and I think the dollar is going to win hands down. There are Australian cricketers who are going to be offshore for seven months. You weigh that up against an Andrew Symonds, who is going to earn a similar amount of money for six weeks work … cricket has got an interesting dilemma in front of it."