Alec Stewart has called on the player draft for England’s new Twenty20 competition to be conducted by July 2019 to prevent it decimating counties. “We need answers so we can plan,” said Surrey’s director of cricket, warning that some counties might be left without enough professional players because of the draft.
Stewart said that, with county cricket continuing during the new tournament, counties needed to know who would be free to play.
“Say we lose seven players. When am I going to know when I lose those seven players? Am I going to know a week, month, six months or a year before? If it starts in 2020, I’m doing the planning for my staff 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?
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“They’ve got to be fair to the domestic game and the players ... Who’s making these decisions and when are they being made?”
The ECB has previously said that two of the 15 berths in each of the eight teams would be filled only immediately prior to the new competition, after the 2020 edition of the T20 Blast. A main player draft will be conducted earlier, with the ECB thought to be keen on the start of the year 2020.
Twelve England-qualified county players are currently in the Indian Premier League, rather than in county cricket, prompting an emergency meeting of county directors of cricket at Edgbaston last week. Stewart revealed that representatives had discussed a cut-off period for all county cricketers, meaning they could not be signed by IPL sides as late replacements immediately prior to the county season, as happened with Surrey’s Tom Curran, and the Yorkshire pair Liam Plunkett and David Willey, this year.
“Your planning goes out of the window,” Stewart said. “The franchise will ring the player or agent direct to see if they are interested and once they are told the money they always are - so you have to let them go. So I think a cut-off date for players being called up is needed - whatever that may be - ideally a month before the Championship starts.
“Who controls the players? Are they our players? They are under contract for 12 months. Or are they IPL players? I would argue they are ours, we should have more control than just saying 'I guess you are going then'."
Stewart also called for counties to be better compensated for losing players to overseas leagues. Currently, the ECB receives a fee from the IPL of 10% for each English-qualified player in the league. The money goes to the ECB, rather than the clubs themselves. “So 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.”
Stewart supports all domestic T20 leagues paying a fee to English counties when they sign players - even during the English winter. In return, counties would pay a fee to foreign national boards or teams when signing overseas players.
Under the current arrangement, county players pay their counties one per cent of their county salaries for the first 21 days they are away for a foreign league like the IPL, and 0.7 per cent a day thereafter, if the competition takes place during the English summer, but nothing at all if it takes place outside. Stewart supports this fee being reduced, so that players miss out on a day rate only for every day they are absent, and the T20 leagues themselves paying a higher share.
“Then everyone is looked after. Obviously 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 the one per cent.”
The ECB is currently reviewing the payments policy and further discussions with the 18 first-class counties are planned soon.