LONDON: England’s centrally contracted players appear – at this stage – to have declined the offer to accept a temporary pay cut as part of the sport’s efforts to combat the challenges set by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, wrote to Tony Irish, his counterpart at the Professional Cricketers’ Association (the PCA; the players’ union who negotiate pay on behalf of centrally contracted players), on March 29 to broach the subject. ESPNcricinfo has a copy of this letter.
In the letter, Harrison revealed that he personally would be taking a 25% pay cut “for at least three months” as the ECB “confronted… the biggest challenge the sport has known in the modern era.” It is understood that other ECB executives have volunteered a 20% pay cut and some staff will be informed on Wednesday morning of a decision to furlough them.
It is unclear how much direct input the players had on the decision, although writing on Twitter, Ben Stokes responded with fury at the suggestion that England’s centrally contracted players had personally turned down the request.
While there were some exchanges between the PCA and the players on WhatsApp groups, the PCA stance has remained that pay cuts should only be seen as a last resort. Jos Buttler, meanwhile, is auctioning off the shirt he wore when England clinched the World Cup to raise money for a health service charity.
While the ECB understood they could not compel the players to accept a pay cut, they had hoped they might volunteer one as a “gesture” in an unprecedented crisis. But, after receiving a less than enthusiastic response to the idea, in a media conference on March 31, Harrison said the ECB “are not seeking pay cuts from England players”.
“In these circumstances,” Harrison wrote, “it is my strong belief that a leadership example must be set. “These measures will be far more effective with the support of our professional players and we seek your help and understanding in this. We are rightly proud of the role our England players play in wider society and how they are helping people through these difficult days and across the country we recognise the valuable role that professional cricketers play in support of the cricket family. In unprecedented times like these, it is important for the whole cricket family to show a willingness to be part of the solution.
“Whilst the health of the nation is under threat, the future of our sport depends on every single one of us sharing the load right now. In light of this, I am encouraging the PCA and all professional players to support the recommendations the first-class counties present to you next week, which may very well propose a 20% reduction in salaries for April and May, with a view to revisiting this on a monthly basis until we have navigated through the crisis.
“I am hopeful that our players are able to contribute in rising to this unprecedented challenge. If we can all pull our weight in working together and come through this, then we will not only reinforce the truly inspiring spirit of the cricket family, but we will safeguard the future of our sport and the livelihoods of everyone who works within it.”
ESPNcricinfo understands that the PCA is yet to receive a proposal from the first-class counties, and will wait for that to arrive before considering it. Irish’s most recent public comments stressed the need for collective solutions.
There is an additional element of negotiation for centrally contracted players due to the Team England Player Partnership (TEPP), which effectively decides the value of central contracts for international players. Irish is also chair of TEPP.
It remains possible that the PCA stance will change but it does seem they have not taken the first opportunity to act in this unprecedented situation. (ESPNCricinfo)