James Anderson’s international career looks set to continue into a 23rd year after he was offered a new deal in a batch of central contracts that includes around 20 multi-year deals.
Anderson, 41, is understood to have been offered a one-year deal. Around 26 players have been offered central contracts in a tweaked system, with approximately 20 of them more than a year long in an attempt to tie players down for England and lessen the threat posed the franchise circuit.
Anderson has 690 Test wickets, more than any Englishman and any other seamer, and first played international cricket in 2002. But he endured a quiet Ashes – taking just five wickets at an average of 85 and watched his long-time new-ball partner Stuart Broad slip off into the sunset in the final match of the series at the Oval.
Anderson has always been determined to carry on, however, and a terrific recent record in India makes him an important part of England’s attack on the five-Test tour there after Christmas.
England are understood to have offered three-year deals to six or seven of their top players, including Ben Stokes, Harry Brook and Mark Wood, as well as two-year deals to around 13 others. Multi-year deals are designed to offer greater security to players.
The remaining contracts, largely to players not in demand on the franchise circuit or nearing the end of their careers like Anderson, are for just one year.
Notably, England are looking to tie down a new generation of all-format fast bowlers such as Josh Tongue, Brydon Carse and Gus Atkinson to two-year deals. They hope that they will be part of their attack for the Ashes tour of Australia in two years time, and appear to have overtaken the Overton brothers and Olly Stone, who will not be contracted.
Last year, England offered 18 central contracts and six incremental deals, but this year all deals are full – even if some are lower in value – giving the England and Wales Cricket Board control over their players’ workload. Players must now decide whether to accept the deals.
The contract offers follow a protracted discussions over England player pay at a time of sensitivity in the global game. Earlier this year, a raft of un-contracted England players opted out of a tour of Bangladesh because the pay at the Pakistan Super League was superior. Many players, such as Wood, faced a club v country row ahead of the India tour, which clashes with lucrative leagues in South Africa and the UAE.
There has, at times during the discussions, been tension between the players and the ECB. It is understood that a rise in match fees for un-contracted players has been shelved because those with central contracts were unhappy with the change.