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England Test coach Brendon McCullum claims it would be “completely naive” to expect the likes of Jofra Archer to turn down lucrative long-term franchise contracts in favour of international deals.
Reports have suggested Archer is being lined up for a year-round deal by his Indian Premier League side Mumbai Indians, with a view to controlling his playing schedule and replacing his central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board.
With Indian franchises increasingly involved as investment partners in other overseas tournaments, putting star names on the full-time payroll appears to be a logical next step, but it is one that would appear to diminish the status of national sides.
Archer is something of a unique case, having made his name on the T20 circuit prior to playing for England, and his longstanding injury problems mean his workload is a course of constant debate.
But McCullum appears to accept that the rules of engagement are changing and feels England will need to be flexible in future if they are to make the most of their top talent.
“The last few years, there’s been a shifting of the sand somewhat around international cricket,” he told SENZ Radio in New Zealand.
“We’d be completely naive to think that players would turn down huge amounts of money on long-term contracts for a lot less work in these T20 leagues because they should be playing international cricket. Those days are fast approaching to be over. It’s definitely a shifting landscape and you’ve just got to be fluid.
“What you’ve got to do is you’ve got to work with these players, you got to work with these leagues and try and allow ideally players to have their cake and eat it too because you want your best players playing.”
McCullum rejected the notion that anyone who turned down an ECB offer should be overlooked for selection, a hard line move he sees as counter-productive.
Instead, he thinks the emphasis he has placed on creating an enjoyable environment around the Test team could play an important role.
“How much fun they’ve had, how much those experiences which they’ve been able to get in an England shirt is so great that they are prepared to continue to put their yards (in) even though it might not be as financially viable as some of the other leagues,” he continued.
“I think we are a little bit lucky too because the amount of money that we can pay players is better than some of the other boards around the world. It’s not good enough to say ‘You know what, if they don’t want to play international cricket for us, then bugger them, we’ll move on and find someone different’.
“As a spectator, you want to see the best players in the world representing their countries.”
The top-tier ECB deals are worth close to £1million for cross-format players but, even with a proposed reform of match fees, it is impossible to see a way that they will ever be able to match the spending power of the IPL’s biggest payers.
Rising star Harry Brook, for example, is earning around £60,000 for his current incremental England deal and, while that will rise rapidly when the next round of deals are issued, he has already collected a £1.3million payday with Sunrisers Hyderabad for his first season in India.
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