29 Mar

England’s top cricket stars such as Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler are expected to take a pay cut of as much as £200,000 from their £1 million-a-year earnings as part of sweeping measures to save costs during the coronavirus lockdown according to The Sunday Times today.

Root, Stokes and Buttler, who play all forms of the game, receive about £1 million a year in contracts, appearances and win bonuses. They would have to sacrifice about £200,000 during the lockdown. Three other England players hold red and white-ball contracts and are on the top band of pay — Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow and Chris Woakes.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) spent last week holding extensive talks with the counties and the Professional Cricketers’ Association about the way forward for the game. “We’re looking at everything about how the game can make savings,” a spokesman said. “There is a formal process to go through with centrally contracted players but the game needs to pull together at this time. We believe the players realise the bigger picture.”

There are 16 players under contract to England, ten of them on specialist red-ball or white-ball deals, and their contractual arrangements and pay levels are sorted through the Team England Player Partnership, which was set up shortly after central contracts were introduced in 2000.

The England players are thought to be amenable to a pay cut, given that many of the 400 professional cricketers employed by counties are expected to be furloughed from this week under the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme. This allows businesses to claim a grant of up to 80 per cent of an employee’s salary, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.

Counties may or may not compensate them for the balance but the game’s finances are being sorely stretched by the crisis and salary cuts seem inevitable. The ECB board is expected to announce a raft of cost-saving measures shortly.

Yorkshire said on Friday that they were considering furloughing their entire playing staff of 30, having already furloughed about two-thirds of non-playing employees. Other clubs are likely to follow suit.

“It would make logical sense if the players were also furloughed at this time,” Mark Arthur, Yorkshire’s chief executive, told the Yorkshire Post. “It’s being discussed by all the counties and we’re hoping to operate as a collective, ideally. We’d have had to trim the workforce otherwise. Quite a number of my fellow chief executives have contacted me to ask how we went through the [furlough] process.”

To compensate for the lack of live cricket globally, the International Cricket Council (ICC) has made footage of classic cricket matches available for fans. Videos of ICC events dating back to the 1975 World Cup will now be available to broadcasters. Highlights and tournament recaps will be shown on the ICC's social media channels and there will be watch parties of iconic games.

John Stephenson


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