There are 12 English players in the IPL this season. © Getty
Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart has called on the England and Wales Cricket Board to redistribute money it has received from the BCCI for the participation of English players in the Indian Premier League. This year, the ECB receive the equivalent of 20 percent of a player’s IPL contract. Yet, despite the presence of 12 English players in the 2018 tournament, none of that money has been passed onto the counties.
Stewart revealed that he and other county chiefs, many of whom were present at last Tuesday’s meeting of directors of cricket at Edgbaston, chaired by Yorkshire’s Martyn Moxon, had only found out about the arrangement last week. What was particularly galling for Stewart was that this was nothing new: in previous years, the ECB had received payments of 10 percent. The increase has come about in line with the increase in the IPL’s salary cap for the 2018 season.
“We have discovered that the ECB have been receiving 10% of the overall contract a player gets from IPL for a number of years and this year it is 20%,” said Stewart. “Should the ECB be keeping that? Or should that money come back to the county, who are the ones who miss out? It should come back to the county.”
Counties have long argued that the “compensation” for releasing a player for the IPL should be better. At present, this on Central Contracts are deducted only 1/365th of their annual retainer for each day they are on IPL duty, which goes back to the ECB. For other players, clubs receive a one percent return of the county salary for every day of 21 days, before that comes down to 0.7 percent from then on. However, this is a drop in the bucket compared to the payments received by the ECB.
“At the moment, the players take the hit,” says Stewart. “But if we get the 20 percent compensation coming from the IPL then I would argue the player should only be paying a daily rate, 1/365th, rather than the one percent. I think that would be fair.
“Obviously if they are not with us they wouldn’t expect to be paid by us so paying back a day rate makes sense, as long as we are getting the full 20% compensation that the IPL pay the ECB. Then everyone is looked after: as counties, we have lost a top player, but there is a sum of money that can be reinvested and the player is not being hit by one percent. If there is a fair amount of money that is going from the IPL to the ECB in compensation, then why does that not end up back at the counties? Of course it should.”
The redistribution may also prevent a rise in “white ball only” contracts. While Adil Rashid and Alex Hales made a choice to only sign limited-overs contracts with Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire respectively, counties are considering them as an option for players they do not see much of during the summer, such as limited overs internationals, as a way of saving money.
Stewart’s suggestions to improve the current arrangement are sound: “If you are not an ECB contracted player, all that money should come back to the county. If you are white ball ECB contracted player 15% should go to the county and ECB keep five percent. If you are full centrally contracted then it should be 10% that comes back.
“You can also second guess to an extent who is going to get picked up in the auction, therefore when we are doing our recruiting that money comes back into the cricket budget which allows us to try and recruit replacements or bring in two new academy players onto your staff, knowing that extra money is coming in.”
As well as the need for better compensation arising in last week’s gathering, Stewart says a request will be made for the ECB to adopt a firmer stance on the way in players are picked up last-minute by IPL franchises. In the last fortnight, Surrey’s Tom Curran (Kolkata Knight Riders) and the Yorkshire pair of Liam Plunkett (Dehli Daredevils) and David Willey (Chennai Super Kings) have made their way to India as injury replacements. Moxon, in particular, was furious at the timing, on the eve of the English domestic season, and used last week’s meeting to call for some kind of reform, which he will look to take back to the ECB’s cricket committee, as the coaches representative.
“It’s far from ideal losing Tom so late,” bemoans Stewart. “The IPL is not going anywhere. At that directors of cricket meeting last week, we talked about a cut-off. If you get picked up in the auction, that’s fine. The problem is when you get the phone calls I got for Tom and Martyn Moxon got for Willey and Plunkett.
“Your planning goes out of the window. I think a cut off date for players being called up is needed, ideally a month before the County Championship starts. Then everyone knows that even if you don’t get picked up in the auction – there’s a three or four-week window after that to get picked up. Once that has gone, you can’t then go and play. That needs to go on the No Objection Certificate from the ECB so that the IPL know and the franchises know that’s the deal and the players understand as well. Otherwise, it leaves us in a bit of a mess.”
Another issue to be relayed back to the ECB is the draft for the new English Twenty20 competition in 2020, which is penciled in for March of that year. Stewart believes it should take place in 2019 to allow counties to plan accordingly.
“When am I going to know when I lose players? If it starts in 2020, I’m doing the planning in about July 2019. If I don’t know by then who I’m going to lose, how on earth can I plan my staff? Who am I going to have to potentially release, or who am I going to return? Who’s going to come through our system? I also need to know about the coaches. Who’s making these decisions and when are they being made? The draft, it needs to be taking place in July 2019, the latest.”