ICC chief Wasim Khan accepts Tests and franchise leagues must learn to coexist
Wasim Khan, the International Cricket Council general manager, accepts the landscape of the sport has changed as he urged countries and franchise leagues to find a way to “coexist”.
Jason Roy last week became the first England player to cancel his national contract, an incremental deal worth between GBP 60,000 and GBP 70,000 per year, to pursue an opportunity in Major League Cricket in the United States, where he has reportedly been offered around GBP 300,000 for two seasons.
There has been speculation about the Indian Premier League offering annual contracts while the relevance of bilateral cricket keeps cropping up as internationals are crammed into an already busy programme.
Khan admitted there is no putting the genie back in the bottle as the proliferation of domestic T20 competitions continues but he feels international cricket can live alongside these leagues.
“Obviously the way the schedule is structured now and the emergence of these leagues, there has to be a way for us to coexist,” said Khan, the former chief executive of Leicestershire and Pakistan.
“Nothing is going to be removed so we are going to have to coexist moving forward.”
The growing unease about the possibility of elite talent putting club before country in future hangs over cricket ahead of the final of the World Test Championship happening next week at the Kia Oval.
Khan, who expects “full crowds” for at least the first four days of the contest between India and Australia, thinks the format still holds some relevance and revealed the 12 full member nations have elected to keep hold of the World Test Championship for the next eight-year cycle.
“The members have signed up for the next eight years,” said Khan. “We’ve heard some of the top stars from around the world continually talking about the importance of Test cricket.
“We know that the emergence of these leagues does put pressure on the schedule but we’re confident that at least for the next eight years that continual context will be provided for red-ball cricket.
“It’s important we continue to find an opportunity to coexist, to ensure our schedules moving forward provides something for everybody.”
Ricky Ponting suggested earlier this month the ICC has a role to play in making sure players from smaller nations are well-remunerated in Test cricket so they do not go down the franchise route.
Khan confirmed the former Australia captain’s assertion the issue had been brought up in a Cricket Committee meeting but was taken no further.
“It was perhaps a misquote,” said Khan. “It was raised initially within the ICC Cricket Committee as a discussion point but there was certainly nothing taken forward around payments to players.”
Khan, though, believes it is up to the boards of individual countries how much they pay players, pointing out all full member nations will receive a substantial increase on previous earnings during the new rights cycle from 2024-27.
“The distributions the members will be receiving in the next cycle will be greater than what they received previously,” added Khan. “The payments they pay players is purely down to the members.
“If there are player associations there, they will certainly be negotiating with those, but where there’s not, it’s down to the boards – and particularly with the key players within those boards – to decide what the payment structure looks like moving forward.”
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