England captain Alastair Cook has tried to dampen concerns that the players are heading for a contracts dispute with the ECB, over an increase in payments for the leading cricketers, in compensation for not being able to play in various Twenty20 leagues, notably the IPL.
Angus Porter, the chief executive of the PCA, told ESPNcricinfo last week that he believes England’s players are “substantially underpaid”, particularly in comparison to the Australians, because they are not able to fully exploit the earning potential of Twenty20. Although the current central contracts allow players to join the IPL for a month, that does not make them very attractive to the franchises – the league extends over two months.
From the current squads, only Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Luke Wright (the latter not on a central contract) have IPL deals for the 2013 edition. Matt Prior was in the recent auction for US$200,000 but did not attract any bids and then hinted at a growing frustration among players at the situation.
Coupled with that, Nottinghamshire have become the first county to outright ban players from the IPL which has impacted Alex Hales, Michael Lumb and Samit Patel.
In a year where England contest two Ashes series and the Champions Trophy any wrangling over money would prove disruptive and, speaking before the start of the one-day series in New Zealand, Cook was eager to reiterate the pride of playing for your country.
“Playing for England is such a huge honour it should always remain that,” he told reporters in New Zealand. “You have a very short career and you have every right to try and earn as much money as possible because it’s a professional sport. But the crux of the matter is how lucky we are and how much pride there should be in wearing the three lions.
“Clearly, with policies and rotation, people are missing games. We have to look at that for longevity but we should remember how lucky we are. We’re very lucky to be doing what we’re doing.”
However, there was tacit acknowledgement that issues will be raised when the contract negotiations start shortly, though Cook said that was not unusual.
“Of course when contracts come up for discussion, for renewal, there will always be the issue of availability and money.
“This is not really the time for me to talk about it … there will be another time to sit around the table with everyone and speak about it there. I haven’t spoken to Angus about what he said. It is important we focus on trying to win a one-day series in New Zealand.”.