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England players 'substantially underpaid' - PCA

George Dobell

February 16, 2013

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Matt Prior played fluently for his half-century, England v South Africa, 2nd Investec Test, Headingley, 4th day, August 5, 2012
Matt Prior has spoken out about England's early season Test schedule conflicting with the IPL © PA Photos
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England players are "substantially underpaid" and require far greater compensation for missing out on the riches available in T20 leagues around the world, according to the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA), the players' union.

Angus Porter is one of the key men charged with negotiating England's central contracts and he feels there is a chasm to be bridged before the players and the ECB can agree the next deal. The new contracts are due to be issued in October.

England's busy schedule is one key area of concern. With the international team playing cricket almost the whole way around the calendar, the opportunities available to England players to participate in the various domestic T20 leagues springing up around the world are sharply curtailed. As a result, according to Porter, their payment lags far behind their opposite numbers from other countries.

The players are also said to be concerned about the integrity of Test cricket. While the format remains most cherished by all current England players, Porter said they are worried that Tests played in May are compromised by the absence of key members of the opposition at the IPL and serve to devalue the premier form of the game.

"T20 leagues are very much an issue as we look at the next round of central contracts," Porter told ESPNcricinfo. "It would be wrong to focus purely on the IPL; the fact is that England players have very little time to appear in any of the highly profitable T20 leagues or even in the Champions League.

"It is quite wrong to presume that central contracts are adequate compensation. England players are substantially underpaid even before we factor in the lost earnings from potential T20 appearances. They are paid somewhere around half the amount of Australian players and most Australian players also have the opportunity to appear in the IPL and the BBL. We are asking that England players be given a chance to maximise their earnings."

While helping the players to do that is clearly one part of Porter's remit, it is not his only concern. "It is very important to the ECB that the integrity of the early season Tests is maintained," Porter said. "But it isn't necessarily so important to the opposition. The players are concerned that playing games against half-strength teams does long-term damage to the integrity of the format that all of them feel is the most important and prestigious.

"We understand there are complex issues here. We understand why the England schedule is so busy and we don't pretend there are simple answers. We are not thrusting a stake into the ground and saying our position cannot be moved. We just feel that a bit of flexibility is required and that a negotiated settlement is the answer. The players are certainly prepared to compromise and I hope the ECB are, too. The England players need to have a greater say in the schedule."

Talks between the two sides are at an early stage but it is clear that there are significant problems to be solved before the England team depart for the Ashes at the end of October.

As things stand, an uneasy compromise exists between the ECB and its contracted players, allowing them to appear in the IPL for around a month but rendering them far less attractive to franchises due to their partial availability - several went unsold in this year's IPL auction.

The 2013 IPL runs from April 3 to May 26 but the ECB has insisted their players are back in England by May 5, ahead of the New Zealand Test at Lord's, which begins on May 16. The New Zealand team is sure to be weakened by players who have chosen to appear in the IPL instead.

The ECB might have thought it had won the argument after subjugating Kevin Pietersen's attempted rebellion in 2012. Among other disagreements, Pietersen had wanted to play a whole season of IPL but was forced to back down when the England management made it clear that they were not willing to give any more ground. But Matt Prior is the latest England regular to suggest a rethink of England's early season schedule, while Owais Shah is believed to be thinking of becoming the first English cricketer to give up a contract in county cricket to make himself available as a travelling T20 professional. The issue is clearly not going away.

"There is no question that we are going to see cricketers go freelance," Porter said. "It may be Shah and it may be someone else. But you can understand players wanting to maximise their earning ability over the last few years of their career and, perhaps, extending that career by managing their workload. It will happen soon."

The involvement of England's players in the IPL may be academic for a few years, though. Between 2014 and 2016 the dates of the IPL are set to be pushed back a few weeks to accommodate major global events, making it practically impossible for England players to be involved. The World T20 takes place in Bangladesh in April 2014, the World Cup the following year runs until the end of March and the following World T20 takes place in India in April 2016.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (February 17, 2013, 10:27 GMT)

The whole basis of cricket in England needs to be reviewed. If we created our own "English Premier T20 League" based on the Indian/Australian model and played as a coherent tournament in a concentrated Summer period it would be to the good of all. The players would be better rewarded. The confusion of the current Domestic schedules would go. Forward planning could be made. But for this to work obviously a maximum 8 team franchise tournament would be needed - as elsewhere. 8 teams based at the 8 International grounds properly funded with two or three star players from abroad per team. Move on form the nostalgia-ridden, outmoded, unaffordable County based system and design something fit for the 21st Century.

Posted by SirViv1973 on (February 16, 2013, 18:05 GMT)

@kallis57, whilst the ecb clearly has issues with bcci, they haven't spitefully arranged May tests to stop players joining ipl. Ecb began scheduling May tests in 2001, the ipl didn't start until 2008! The ipl may have helped srl & win teams in t20 terms, but it has also aided the the slump in the srl test side who are now struggling 2 produce players with the right technique 2 play at test level check out their recent performances & results. The wi test side also continues 2 struggle 4 the same reasons. As an eng fan I would like us 2 b successful in all forms, but I'm not 2 bothered if we r not doing well in t20, as long as the test side is playing well that's really all that matters.

Posted by kallis57 on (February 16, 2013, 14:07 GMT)

The real issue for me in all this is the ECB and their spiteful childish attitude to the IPL. They have begun to schedule these ridiculous, weather ruined series against under strength opposition simply to prevent England players appearing in the IPL. This has 2 or 3 outcomes. Test cricket is played in damp conditions in half empty grounds against sub standard opposition. Test cricket is devalued - how could it not be? Spectators get poor value for money and our players are generally annoyed. When a team man like Matt Prior speaks out about it you know there is an issue here. Almost more importantly since the ECB's de-facto boycott of the IPL has set the England T20 team back. We have gone from T20 champions to also rans in 2 years. Where teams like the West Indies and Sri Lanka with their players getting IPL practice have come on leaps and bounds we have gone backwards. The ECB should act in the best interests of the game not engage in petty squabble with other countries.

Posted by   on (February 16, 2013, 10:41 GMT)

There seems to be this myth about T20 domestic competitions. IPL BBL etc.. that there is untold wealth waiting for 100's of cricketers to cash in on. It aint so.There are a handful of itinerant first class T20 cricketers like Gayle,and Shah for instance, who will alwaysl get picked up at any tournament they elect to play in and get the lions share.Add to that the quota of domestic cricketers and it doesn't leave an awful lot of places/money to be picked by the odds and sods.Supply and demand, market forces, call it what you will, but the outcome is the same. If the BBL had been a free for all like the IPL, does Prior think he would have been employed. No way, he can't even make the England T20 team. So a lot of these players, who would never be bought in a free markeet are simply hopping on to the T20 bandwagon as an excuse to demand more money from the ECB. Greed is a word that springs to mind.. especially since their ECB contracts are already reportedly worth £700,000.

Posted by zenboomerang on (February 16, 2013, 8:34 GMT)

@George Dobell :- "the strength of the county game would be diluted by widespread departures (to the IPL)... lol... Counties may lose 1 player per team, but I doubt it - with the IPL finals in late May, most players would be back in Eng having missed a couple of weeks... The Champions League interferes with the Oz season & early Tests, yet we get by without any hysteria...

You are joking about the American, Caribbean, SL & Pak leagues about deserving a window?... Aren't you?... Combined they will never get more than 20% of the popularity of IPL - even throw in the BBL, SA & Eng you wouldn't get to 50%...

Posted by Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on (February 16, 2013, 6:15 GMT)

Cricket will go football way in 10 years time. Money rules - If T20 club cricket provides more money , administrators will push for that.

Football is not in bad shape because of clubs. Best football is played in clubs and cricket will go that way - sooner or later .

Posted by   on (February 16, 2013, 6:15 GMT)

The prestige of test cricket is damaged by the opposition being weakened? Such an excuse for trying not to schedule anything in the IPL window.

Posted by   on (February 16, 2013, 2:46 GMT)

This just makes me sad. Playing IPL would be all good and well for those players that got bought but possibly half the team wouldn't such as Cook, Trott, Compton, Root. They'd therefore miss out on test appearance fees and lose profile and sponsorship money. All of these players are famous because of tests. If a player gets moderately injured, who's doing the rehab? Not the IPL team, they're straight back home. What if a player was also good at baseball or snooker or judo and requested 6 weeks off to go and play in a lucrative tournament in April/May. The ECB would rightly refuse, should be no different here. AFL has a 5 month off season, would they let a player play BBL in the off season, no way. Would a soccer or any other team sport business, likewise.

Posted by bennybow on (February 16, 2013, 2:23 GMT)

No clue about English weather? Last year we had hosepipe bans in summer and floods in winter. Doesn't feel like "pretty much the same" to me. Also, I'm still peeved at the number of days rained off last year meaning I didn't get full value from my expensive county membership.

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