And Key, England’s managing director of men’s cricket, said that non-contracted players are being offered “life-changing amounts of money” which significantly outstrip the tour fees and match fees paid by the ECB.
“At the moment, we can’t physically get our strongest team to every single game England play,” Key told Wisden Cricket Monthly during an extensive interview. “The other thing that’s coming – and it’s here now, really – is the cost; the difference in what they get paid for England compared to what they’re getting offered around the world.
“You’re talking $500,000 or $600,000 for a few weeks’ work, in some cases. If you’re not on a central contract then the difference is huge. There’s not a person in the world that would actually sit there and go, ‘do you know what, I’m not bothered about that amount of money’. You’re talking about life-changing amounts of money.
“These are the next things we’re having to negotiate. This is what the game has to try and work out what it’s going to do. And I don’t, at the moment, know the answer. These things have happened almost overnight. This was always coming, but it wasn’t until these two leagues in South Africa and the UAE where the money just went ‘voom’, went up, that it’s now started to be really competitive.”
The ECB have encouraged young players to sign up for franchise leagues in recent years and see the fact that the majority take place during the English winter as a competitive advantage over most Test-playing nations, using them as a development tool.
“We’re lucky: our summer doesn’t run alongside these things,” Key said. “If you’re in Australia, your domestic players are going to get taken to these leagues that are running at the same time.
“The global game, the international game, has to have a serious think and get-together about what it’s going to do to make sure that there’s meaning in the cricket that we play. That’s the key: it’s not just about money, we need the meaning to be there to make people want to play [international cricket].”