<
>

T20 league will hit 50-over cricket - Mitchell

"As a Worcestershire player, we really look forward to the T20 ... Now people are realising that only a quarter of us will play" Getty Images

The proposed new T20 competition in England is likely to dilute the quality of domestic 50-over cricket and provide "another kick" to its future, according to new PCA chairman, Daryl Mitchell.

While Mitchell, the Worcestershire top-order batsman who was recently elected to the PCA role, regards the launch of the eight-team T20 competition, scheduled for 2020, as "inevitable" he has reservations about several aspects of it and promised to work hard to ensure the interests of all 400 PCA members are protected.

"The new T20 competition looks like a great opportunity for the 90 to 100 lads selected to play in it," Mitchell told ESPNcricinfo. "But the role of the PCA is to look out for the other 300 players, too.

"The plan at the moment is to play the 50-over competition during the window when the new T20 competition will be on. But if you take the best 100 white-ball players out of the tournament it is pretty inevitable there will be a dilution in quality.

"We're told players not in action in the new T20 competition may be made available to their counties, but 50-over cricket is probably already the format given the least priority by the players - something that is reflected in the prize money - and this will be another kick for it.

"Our role will be to ensure the money we're told will come into the sport trickles down for the benefit of everyone."

Mitchell's personal views would appear to conflict quite sharply with the ECB's approach in several areas. He believes a partial return to free-to-air broadcasting is essential if the game is to reach a new audience, he preferred the idea of a two-division solution (with promotion and relegation) in the T20 debate, and he argues for a need to increase the wages of young players.

He accepts, however, that the ECB has "an incredibly difficult job" in trying to "look after so many stakeholders" and that his role is to communicate not his own views but those of his membership. "It's about feeding back the views of the collective," he said.

"One of the challenging parts of the job is the need to balance the long-term health of the game with the short-term benefits to our current member. We have to remember that, if we don't look after the game, we might not have any future members.

"We appreciate that the ECB are trying to ensure the health of the game in the long-term and we appreciate we're one of many stakeholders. We know we have to balance our aspirations with the aspirations of everyone else and I'm looking forward to working with the ECB to that end."

But he believes the players may have been "a bit naïve" in their enthusiasm for the new T20 competition and that reality has "hit home in recent times".

"As a Worcestershire player, we really look forward to the T20 competition as it provides us with a chance to play in front of packed houses and on big grounds," he said. "As things stand, we go into that competition each year with a chance of winning it. To have that taken away from us is a bit of a blow.

"When the new competition was first talked about, I think everyone thought they were about to become millionaires. Now people are realising that only about a quarter of us will play. We're going to need quite a lot of info from the ECB.

"From a personal point of view, I liked the two-division idea and, from a personal point of view, I think we need to get some cricket back on free to air. I think the ECB recognise that, too, and they are very clear about trying to raise the profile of the game."

Responding to the ECB's reported attempt to change the mechanism by which the domestic salary cap is calculated, Mitchell suggested his attention was more on players at the lower end of the salary spectrum.

"The salary cap isn't relevant to many clubs," Mitchell said. "I'm more worried up upping the minimum salaries. There are players in county cricket earning around £15,000 a year, which I don't think reflects the skill and dedication required to be a professional athlete.

"I'm told that nothing is decided about the salary cap yet, but I think our main priority will be making sure some of the money coming into the game filters down to the lower ends."