06 Feb

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced on 28 January the introduction of a new form of central contract for fast bowlers. The first recipients of the England Pace Bowling development contracts were Saqib Mahmood (Lancashire), Craig Overton (Somerset) and Olly Stone (Warwickshire).

As with the existing central contracts for red and white ball cricket (worth £700k and £170K respectively in addition to the players county salaries) the fast bowlers will still be employed by their counties, but the ECB will pay compensation when they are not available to play. The value of the new contracts to the fast bowlers has not yet been revealed, but the players contracts run until 30th September 2020 and they must commit to the England Lions Individualised Player Programme and Lions tour (if selected). The ECB also announced on February 6 that Jason Gillespie, the Sussex head coach and former Australian fast bowler, will mentor the young Lions bowlers in their tour of Australia starting next month.       

With one eye on the Ashes tour to Australia in 2021-22 the ECB has introduced these development contracts to support the young fast bowlers and ensure that they have some control over their workloads. Central contracts would not be offered to the development players as they are not currently in contention for Test places. However, following today’s announcement on 6 February that Joffra Archer has suffered a stress fracture of his right elbow and is unlikely to be involved in the England set up until June at the earliest, Mahmood will stay on in South Africa as his replacement in next week’s 3-match T20 series.

John Stephenson

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