A new FICA report highlights the shift from T20 country to club.

Forty percent of the world’s top men’s T20 players are operating as free agents as they eschew national contracts to ply their trade in lucrative domestic T20 leagues to roam the globe. A further 42% are operating in a hybrid model that combines national and domestic contracts with playing at least one overseas T20 league.

This means that 82% of the top 100 T20 players do not want to be locked into a national contract, which is the only way for players to have protection and security. These are the key findings of the 2022 Men’s Global Employment Report by the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA).

The FICA report, released on Tuesday, is based on findings from a global player survey conducted earlier this year. The responses came from 400 players from 11 countries, mostly international cricketers. Players from India and Pakistan are not included in the survey as neither country has a players’ association affiliated to FICA.

This is the third edition of the FICA report, which was first conducted in 2018 and again in 2020. In its inaugural survey four years ago, FICA warned of a “vertical flight” of talent. to international cricket) to the “horizontal route” (dominance of foreign T20 franchise leagues).

Such a threat is now a stark reality with domestic T20 leagues (including T10 tournaments) dominating the global cricket landscape and even the international calendar. The already crowded T20 leagues roster will see the arrival of two new competitions from 2023: the ILT20 and the SA20, both of which will begin in January.

Such wide selection, FICA says, is behind the “increasing trend” of players moving towards the hybrid or free agent route “with 82% of the top 100 players in the T20 Player Index” now in that category. . The report points out that most of these free agents are currently players from the “small cricketing economy” who are taking advantage of the “quantity of opportunities” on offer.

“Some of the free agent players playing for 3 or more teams represent a potential new category of ‘the league specialist’ – many of whom have had limited international careers, including very little Test cricket. Included, their primary focus is in the domestic. leagues landscape,” the report said.

The remaining 18%, the report notes, are a group of players following a more traditional employment path, and almost exclusively Indian players “highlight the constraints” imposed by the BCCI on their ability to play overseas domestically. Banned from participating in T20 leagues. The results also show that “40% of the world’s top T20 players” do not have a central contract with “a top nine cricket nation” (excluding Zimbabwe, Ireland, Afghanistan among the 12 full member nations).

When combined with increasingly crowded global game schedules, and scheduling overlap between domestic leagues and international cricket, many of the world’s best players prefer domestic leagues and forgo international fixtures and/or central contracts. Stress is created with motivation.

FICA report

While it admitted that “using only the T20 format as a snapshot distorts the data”, FICA pointed out that the shortest format was “the most relevant indicator as the majority of the world’s best players play this format”. “

How much is too much?

To show how much the landscape of international cricket has changed, FICA compared ODI/T20 numbers in random years between 2003 and 2021. There was no international T20 cricket in 2003, but of the 196 international matches played, 71% (152) were ODIs, including 44 Test matches. In 2021, 485 international matches were played across the three formats with a break-up of: 346 T20Is (71%), 46 Tests (9%) and 93 ODIs (19%) – the vast increase in T20Is is also due to expansion. . Classified in 2019 to include all such matches played between Associates.

The biggest driver behind players going solo is the lucrative compensation on offer in these leagues, and the FICA report echoes that. “Professional cricket is increasingly a multi-contract, multi-employer system,” the report said. “The gap between domestic income and international earnings has widened since the last FICA report, and both countries have more than international earnings.”

Another major reason players, including high-profile names, are rescheduling their futures is the constant international schedule that has put a heavy workload on them. This is not going to decrease with the increased frequency of ICC tournaments in the next FTP: there are 20 global tournaments in the 2024-31 FTP, compared to 14 in the previous eight-year cycle (2015-23).

The FICA report said such a trend was not limited to high-profile players and particularly continued after new T20 leagues and IPL owners expanded “horizontally” into other foreign leagues. will The report said multiple employers and contracts would only increase “tensions” between players and their national boards.

“When combined with an increasingly crowded global game schedule, and the scheduling overlap between domestic leagues and international cricket, many of the world’s best players prefer domestic leagues and forgo international fixtures and/or central contracts. Tensions arise with the incentive to do so. The workload of domestic leagues is generally compounded by international cricket being on a half-time/wage basis – i.e. ‘double pay for half the work’. This trend is not limited to ‘profile players’. Some recent examples include Trent Boult rejecting the NZC central contract, Ben Stokes retiring from ODIs and Quinton de Kock retiring from Test cricket at the age of 29. are retiring from. This trend will continue with the creation of more domestic leagues, and IPL media rights are reportedly being sold for over 6 billion. USD for the next 5 years.”

Of those taking part in the FICA survey, 49% said they would “consider rejecting a central contract if they were paid more to play in the domestic leagues”, but 74% (up from 82% in the 2018 report (falling) still give importance to Test cricket. Summit in the game. 79 per cent wanted a cap number for the minimum and maximum number of international matches per year, while 63 per cent wanted the franchises leagues to be “ring-fenced” to provide greater clarity and allow domestic and international cricket to “co-exist”. .

FICA CEO Tom Moffat said a balanced global framework was essential for the health of the game and its players and that “a clear framework around bilateral international cricket scheduling” was necessary. “The majority of value in each of the three major, revenue-generating cricket scenes is generated by a small number of players, and those players can only be in so many places at once.”

Nagaraj Golapudi is the news editor at ESPNcricinfo.

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