National Contracts: World players’ body FICA in its annual report said that the cricketing ecosystem is barring India with a major chunk of international cricketers rejecting their respective country’s central contracts to become freelance agents for T20 leagues across the globe.
It should be mentioned that the Indian players’ body is not under the aegis of FICA, whose sample survey did not include Indian cricketers. According to the latest report, “49 per cent would consider turning down a central contract if paid more to play in the domestic league”.
There is a growing debate that 50-over cricket is fast losing its relevance and the survey shows that there has been a significant decline in the percentage of cricketers who still think the ODI World Cup is the most important event in the ICC calendar.
“54 per cent still consider the 50-over World Cup to be the pinnacle ICC event, although this has dropped significantly from 86 per cent in the 2018/19 FICA survey,” the report said.
FICA, in its report, has divided the current employment scenario of cricketers into three different categories—Traditional market, Hybrid market, Free agency market.
The percentage split in the traditional market is 18% which is about players with primary domestic/international contracts. The hybrid market, which includes primary domestic/international contracts as well as overseas domestic contracts (T20 leagues, counties), accounts for 42 per cent of cricketers, while the most alarming rate of growth is the free agency market which constitutes 40 per cent.
The free agency market consists solely of several domestic and foreign domestic contracts (own country’s T20 league as well as other T20 leagues around the world).
Interestingly, the conclusion drawn from this trend is that only Indian players are involved in the traditional market as they are not allowed to play overseas T20 leagues.
“The growing trend is for players to move to hybrid or free agent status, with 82% of the T20 Player Index’s top 100 players now in this category. 40 per cent of the world’s top T20 players The pass now has no central contract with the top nine cricketing nations,” the report said.
“Most of the world’s best players are now in hybrid/free agency markets. The percentages above only reflect centrally/nationally contracted players who feature in the top 100 of the T20 Player Index. Around 18 per cent of all ‘traditional market players’ are from India, highlighting the restrictions imposed on these players to prevent participation in foreign domestic leagues,” it further stated.
Huge gap in international cricket performance
Countries ranked 1-9 in the ICC list played 81.5 days of international cricket in 2021, while nations ranked 10-20 played an average of 21.5 days, the report said.
There were 485 international matches in 2021 alone, 195 more than the 290 that took place in 2020 due to COVID-19, but still far less than the 522 games that took place around the world in 2019.
Mohammad Rizwan had the highest international cricket workload in 2021 with 80 calendar days while Rishabh Pant with 75 days has the highest among Indians. In the middle, there is also Joe Root with 78 days of cricket in 2021.
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