England’s top cricketers begin their new central contracts on Thursday still to discover the size of the pay cuts they know they must take to ease the sport’s Covid-19 crisis.
The worth of the new deals, which sees Zak Crawley, Ollie Pope and Dom Sibley the Test contract winners and Jonny Bairstow and Mark Wood the big losers, have yet to be agreed, with negotiations ongoing about the players share of the ECB’s financial burden.
Ashley Giles, the England team director, admitted on Wednesday he hoped an agreement would be in place by now but remained adamant players who salvaged the game’s future this summer by completing a full international programme in a bio-secure environment will accept cuts to deals than can be worth up to £900,000.
Zak Crawley is one of the big winners as central contracts for England stars are announced
Ollie Pope (left) and Dom Sibley (centre) are also big winners of Test contracts with England
‘Although the players have been in a bubble for the majority of the summer they are not blind to the reality of what is going on in the world,’ said former England spinner Giles. ‘They understand they have a part to play in that.
‘The players have done a huge amount this summer to, in effect, keep the lights on for cricket but they are mature and realistic about what is going on. The discussions have been really positive throughout and I’m confident we are close now.’
The ECB will lose a minimum of £106million this year despite rescuing the bulk of their broadcasting revenue with 18 televised international matches and are in the process of making cuts that will see 62 people within the governing body lose their jobs.
Ashley Giles (left), the England team director, says the players will accept big pay cuts
But there is an acceptance they are almost totally reliant for their financial health on the men’s England team, who voluntarily made a £500,000 donation to charity, the equivalent of a 20 per cent wage cut over three months, in April.
So, Sportsmail understands, the losses to the players now will not be huge but they will, says Giles who along with other ECB executives has taken a pay cut himself throughout the summer, have a ‘material effect’ on the game’s immediate future.
The new deals see the future of England’s Test batting in Crawley, Pope and Sibley rewarded for the first time but, as reported by Sportsmail on Tuesday night, Bairstow has to be content with a white-ball contract only and a cut of around £600,000.
‘It was a tough call to make because he remains an important player but I hope this leaves him still hungry to have a big role in Test cricket,’ said Giles. ‘It was hard news for him to hear but he took it as well as you could expect and he still has a desire to play Tests.’
Mark Wood (left) was one of the big losers of announcement and will settle for a white-ball deal
The other eye-catching omission in the list of 12 centrally contracted red-ball players was Wood, who has to be content with a white-ball deal, while the dearth in slow bowling options in English cricket was reflected by the absence of any spinner in the 12.
Instead Dom Bess and Jack Leach have incremental contracts worth around a basic £80,000 a year before this year’s deductions while Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali remain on white-ball deals worth around £250,000.
‘There is a pecking order in terms of the attack and while the impact of Mark is huge when he’s on the field he has only played three Tests this calendar year,’ said Giles. ‘Mark is still under our umbrella and we will look after him.
Jonny Bairstow has to be content with a white-ball contract only and a cut of around £600,000
‘Jack and Dom have played important roles for us but there are only so many awards to make and there were some tough decisions. I can only hope they continue to develop because we would love to be offering a Test contract to a spinner.’
The good news is Giles remains ‘very confident’ all England’s scheduled cricket this winter in South Africa with the white-ball team before Christmas and Sri Lanka and India with the Test side in the New Year will go ahead.
‘We are in constant dialogue with countries around the world and it is very important we work together across the globe to get cricket on,’ said Giles. ‘We are due to play South Africa, Sri Lanka and India and we are very confident all this cricket will happen but we have to remain flexible and leave decisions until the last minute.’
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