Cricket players have been offered today what New Zealand Cricket chief executive Martin Snedden believes is a ground-breaking contract offer in New Zealand sport.
It has utilised the ranking system that has been at the core of contracts in Australian cricket for the last five years.
The top 20 players at international level will be contracted and assessed by the national selectors each year for their position on the list.
Should the four-year offer be accepted by the players, and they have said they will have a response to NZC by Friday of next week, before the next round of discussions are due on October 22, a list already drawn up by the selectors as far back as May this year will be implemented.
Snedden and his bargaining group have been able to make their offer while increasing the total cost of payments by only $140,000. However, in taking out the bonus payments that had been part of the previous international contract system more has been able to be made available to players on the lower ranks of the first-class ladder.
Players at provincial level, and without the international players being included, will also be ranked in each association.
Snedden said the change in systems was appropriate given the changes that have occurred in playing standards in the last five years.
"Five years ago there may not have been the confidence in some of the players, but now there is a solid core there who we do have a lot of confidence in.
"I feel the ranking creates an incentive for the players and the ranking is a decision made by the selectors," he said.
Snedden also felt, and he thought the New Zealand Cricket Players' Association would probably agree, that the ranking list should be made public.
"I imagine it would be quite prestigious to be known as the No 1 ranked player in New Zealand," he said.
A central plank of the offer is also the compliance with the International Cricket Council's demands that players must sign the contracts required before next year's World Cup and future tournaments because they were the basis of the finances being available to pay players.
Snedden had not been surprised by the length of time involved in discussing the contract. He said there were 25-26 issues and common ground had been found on all of them except the remuneration issue.
"It has been a hell of a difficult and detailed negotiation, but I knew it would be. It is a ground-breaking offer that we have made and it is short term pain for longer term gain," he said.
The reason for the contract being a four-yearly one, with provision for financial top-ups as extra money becomes available, was because of the "front-end loading" of payments every four years based on World Cup payouts.
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