Australia news August 12, 2011

Hohns queries size of contract list

Trevor Hohns has revealed that he raised concerns about the dimensions of the Cricket Australia contracts system when chairman of the national selection panel, a post he exited in 2006.

Having resumed an active role in Australian cricket as Queensland's chairman of selectors and state talent manager, Hohns said he believed the contracting of 25 players was too many. He also said that the system had to be made more flexible on a year-to-year basis depending on the nature of the Australia team's schedule.

"We had plenty of depth then [pre-2006], but I'm not sure that 25 is the right number. I must admit I was always saying that [as chairman]," Hohns told ESPNcricinfo. "But that was the deal that was done and we had to work with it. To have 25 seems a lot to me, and I think the players' association and CA need to be a bit flexible on this, we're going through different times and I think it does need a little bit of tweaking.

"Where we go with it I don't know, you and I aren't going to change that, it's more a matter for CA and the players association I believe. It certainly needs to be looked at, and what the answer is I don't know. There are several lines of thought, whether it should be more incentive-based for those that play get the pay, or whether T20 cricket should have separate contracts, there's several lines of thought and I'm sure they're going over all of those."

Hohns also agreed that the state and national contracts system should be weighted more heavily towards Test cricket aspirants and participants, so as to provide a worthy incentive for players who are currently able to earn far more for playing a handful of Twenty20 tournaments than for focusing on the arduous task of representing their country.

The slim financial outlook for players concentrating on the Sheffield Shield competition and not also earning T20 contracts in the Big Bash League was exposed when the selectors chose Trent Copeland for the tour of Sri Lanka. On a state contract of about $75,000, Copeland is earning a fraction of the salary presently being raked in by the likes of the young allrounder Steven Smith.

"Most cricketers still want to play Test cricket I believe," Hohns said. "I've been out of the loop for a little while now but I presume most still want to represent their country in Test matches. Sure the shorter version of the game, T20 and to a lesser extent one-day cricket, generate a lot of money, so that's all got to be taken into account and there's got to be a balance somewhere."

Michael Brown, CA's head of cricket operations, and Paul Marsh, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association, have both agreed there is room for adjustments. However, Marsh believes the issues would be less conspicuous had the current national selectors not changed their views so much between naming 25 contracted players in June then picking three players from outside the group for a Test tour in July.

Australia's selection and contracting processes are presently under the harsh glare of the Don Argus-led review into the performance of the national team, which is expected to table its findings for the CA directors at their August 18-19 board meeting. It remains unclear whether or not the recommendations will be shown to the public.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo