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The most divisive and tasteless selection in cricket history

Jonathan Agnew | 14:53 UK time, Tuesday, 9 September 2008

England's selectors have only delayed the moment of truth.

By announcing a squad of 15 players for the controversial Stanford Twenty20 contest, the selectors have merely put back the day when the final 11, who will play for the chance to win $1m each, are revealed.

Only then will the impact of the most divisive and tasteless selection in cricket history be known.

I only hope the England management have been on an extra training course to prepare themselves.

Sir Allen Stanford

The unlucky four squad members can console themselves with the thought of possibly picking up $250,000 each in the event of their colleagues beating the Stanford Super Stars, but I hope people are slowly waking up to quite what a vulgar and thoroughly unnecessary exercise this is.

The England and Wales Cricket Board's hope is that it will lure England's players away from participating in the Indian Premier League next spring.

Well, let's see. I will happily take a friendly bet with anyone now that this unofficial Texan shoot-out will not persuade England's players to remain at home rather than chase further riches in India.

There will, of course, be some sort of macabre interest in this first match of its kind but of much greater importance to me is the discovery over the coming months of exactly what the deal is between the ECB and Sir Allen Stanford, particularly the depth of his involvement in the English Premier League.

In an otherwise predictable announcement, I am very glad that former England captain Michael Vaughan has retained his central contract, and to hear selector Geoff Miller's ringing endorsement of a man who could still play an important role.

Vaughan will be setting his sights very much on Andrew Strauss's place in the team. Strauss will be thoroughly scrutinised in the two Tests against India before Christmas.

I travelled to see Vaughan a couple of weeks ago, and gained the impression that the former captain is determined to give his playing career a real shot between now and the start of the Ashes.

This would include playing club cricket overseas this winter if necessary. But if he fails to win his England place back by the time the Ashes come around in the summer of 2009, he would, in all likelihood, bring the curtain down.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Surely this is just an extension of the ECB selling its soul to Sky.

    Millions of viewers are deprived of watching televised cricket coverage, with TMS doing its best to fill a nationwide void.

    Sandford's money is tasteless, but we will see far even fawning and subservience from the ECB in future, whenever they smell the opportunity to get cash.


  • Comment number 2.

    'tasteless selection' is about right. I would have thought the joy of having a hobby as a full time job would be enough for most people, but apparently sportsmen always want more.

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm afraid Aggers that I don't agree with your position re: Michael Vaughan. It's good to hear that he is driven and keen to win his place back. However all of the other centrally-contracted players are in the team in at least one form of the game, whereas Vaughan does not play ODIs and is not currently in the Test side. Central contracts should be seen and used as an incentive to players to get into the national side and perform, they should not be used to provide income for players not currently performing or in the side, in my opinion.

  • Comment number 4.

    Money Vs The Spirit of Cricket. An interesting yet ghastly prospect, as is the notion of an American 'owning' the ECB, EPL, and England team whether it's a time-share or not.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'm not sure I completely agree with the sentiments expressed here.

    Stanford needs to be involved with any future E.P.L., simply because we don't have benefactors/billionaires in this country who will give the counties the same sort of money the Bollywood stars and Indian industrialists did to the I.P.L. franchises. The E.C.B. needs some sort of external backing as it can't fund the foreign stars itself.

    I'd prefer to keep the England players away from the I.P.L. and play a few games versus Stanford's sides, to be honest. That way, there could no controversy when someone would be injured in the I.P.L., as the English players would still be playing under the E.C.B. Furthermore, the E.C.B. needs to compete financially with the I.P.L. to keep centrally-contracted players in England; the Stanford Series offers a way around that.

    I myself am sorry that it has come to the stage where the E.C.B. has to arrange vulgar contests such as these to keep players who ought to be proud to play for England and should view it as the pinnacle of their careers. However, I am much more comfortable with the players earning a fortune for playing 4-6 friendlies for England than playing cricket in India and renouncing central contracts.

    I don't like the idea of a 20/20 Premier League in England, yet it has to happen due to the I.P.L. and Stanford's backing is the only way at present to do it.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    This all reminds me of the nonsense that was spouted from the "empire" regarding Kerry Packer who ultimately saved the sport of Cricket in Australia and was a major contributor to it's survival around the world.
    Good on Allen Stanford for putting his money where his ego is and supporting Cricket, in any form in the Caribbean.

  • Comment number 8.

    i agree with aggers on the vaughn situation he has always been rubbish at county cricket but i wud hav him opening withe cook in tests cook and strauss r 2 similar

    regards stanford the ecb are also makin money from this not just players and its not there fault for wantin to make as money as possible just look at the amount of ex players r on there staff

    aggers if u were offered a million £ to commontate on a match but none of ur tms mates were offered the gig how long wud it take u to sign up?

  • Comment number 9.

    J.A - I am sorry I disagree, I think this will tempt more English players to the Indian premier league, the likes of Mascarenhas, Tremlett, Foster and Napier why should they stay around and wait for England when they have been over looked .

  • Comment number 10.

    I wonder what other batsmen who have been playing well in county cricket this season feel about MV being given a central contract, as his form since returning to Yorkshire has been awful. If as in your view to get back in the team all he needs is for Strauss to fail it is a sad state of affairs and reeks of favouritism yet again.

  • Comment number 11.

    Tell us No.6, did you actually read the Telegraph article linked in the blog before you started foaming at the mouth with your pointless anti-Aggers rant or did you just dive straight in without grasping what exactly it is Stanford has purchased?

  • Comment number 12.

    Re: no. 6. The ECB could at least have had the temerity to explain some of the values of the game to Mr. Stanford. A big money match is all very well, but this puts way too much emphasis on individual stars and will only do good for TV companies and not cricket. Imagine what $20million could do as seed money for grass-roots cricket and coaching in England. If either Stanford or the ECB really cared about the future of the game, and not just the immediacy of its celebrity status via 20/20 then this format would not have been acquiesced in. I think, therefore, that Aggers is absolutely right in his castigation of it.

  • Comment number 13.

    The simplest solution for the England squad to avoid the divisiveness that will unquestionably occur once the final 11 is selected is surely to get every player in the current 15 man squad to agree to pool all monies earned from the fixture giving each squad member an even 1/15th share. Each player gets a decent payday and no one is left out.
    This seems far too simple, there must be a flaw to this logic?

    The other option is to ignore this vulgar fixture and allow the England players to play in the IPL…..seems funny now that this appears the more palatable option.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    The ECB is following the FA model of getting as much cash in regardless of what it does to the real game.

    Like football, we could be heading rapidly for Franchise CC and destroying the structure of the game as we know it. I for one don't want to see that happening. I'm all in favour of progress, but this isn't it and there is also taking the national game up a blind alley from which there might be no return.

    What happens when Sky and Stanford walk away from the game and there is no cash left ?

    Why isn't anybody standing up to this and saying no?

  • Comment number 16.

    Sadly we old romantics still consider cricket to be a game and in some areas it still is despite the continuous aping by young and impressionable cricketers of the bad behaviour displayed on Television by overpaid loudmouths. It is sad when youngsters of age thirteen keep up a stream of continuous drivel under the guise of supporting their bowlers. International cricket is now a game played by yobs for money who couldn't care less about the example that they are setting.

  • Comment number 17.

    Cant believe many avid cricket fans will have more than a passing interest in this game as with the IPL. Get it over with and back to the real stuff this winter

  • Comment number 18.

    I think there's only you that has labelled this match as "controversial" Aggers

  • Comment number 19.

    i wonder why Mascarenhas is not in the squad!!!

  • Comment number 20.

    The sad thing with ECB's apparent 'money, money, money' approach to running the game in this country is how little it appears to be benefitting grass roots junior cricket. As a youngster, I watched every day of every test match on TV aswell as county one day games on a sunday.....and in between we were playing the game, trying to be David Gower or Bob Willis. My 9 year old loves the game but unless I subscribe to Sky (which I can't afford to) he can't watch any live cricket. At best its a few highlights, if they are not on too late in the evening. He is an example of a keen youngster who in the future may be lost to a more accessible sport. I'm involved in my local village club - other than the odd plastic quick cricket set, we see very little money come our way and struggle incredibly to get places on over subscribed course for 'dads' to become qualified coaches to help with the junior section. My son, as with the rest of the nation, was hyper about cricket after the Ashes - I'm afraid the ECB missed their opportunity for the sake of short term financial game.

  • Comment number 21.

    I assume from the tone of your blog that you haven't been selected for 5live's commentary team for the match in question. It will be Mann and Pougash picking up the dosh. Don't fret, I'm sure they will buy you a cake.

  • Comment number 22.

    It`s just not cricket !!, i agree with Aggers

  • Comment number 23.

    Its a golden handshake for Vaughan, nothing more.

  • Comment number 24.

    I totally agree that the whole prize money thing is pretty rank.

    When the ECB got involved they should have laid out harsh terms of fair distribution of the prize money.

    Perhaps even going as far as to absorb all prize money into a special ECB pot for everyone involved with a central contract - players and coaches.

    Now, like Aggers says, we're in a filthy selection situation. Yuck! The whole thing stinks!

  • Comment number 25.

    Can there ever have been a game of cricket whose outcome was of so little interest to the public yet of so great an interest to the players involved? At the same times as some counties struggle to survive, individual players stand to make unheard of fortunes. The implications for player and club relationships don't bear thinking about.

  • Comment number 26.

    I don't see why you are delighted that Vaughan has retained his central contract. His form was, and still is, poor. He deserved to be dropped from the test arena and England seem to have moved on or at least found new heart under KP. Unless Vaughan turns it around big time, he should remain in exile because any return to the fold will only muddy the waters.

    p/s I wish I could find somebody to give me a lucrative deal for failure.

  • Comment number 27.

    Why does Jonathan have to be pilloried at every moment? He is a writer who is paid to publish and broadcast his opinion, and that is what you are getting.

    You may not like what he says, but at least it is valid comment on what is happening now in the game, and like many others I am happy to read and then make my own mind up, without shooting the messenger.

    Leave the guy alone, he does a good job in my view.


  • Comment number 28.

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if the players donated their prize money to cricket-based charities so that the ECB and Stanford could see that at least the players were interested in investing in the game, and not just in themselves. Won't happen, of course, but it would be the cricketing thing to do. I for one would applaud any man who made such a gesture, and would bet that that man's fame and status would live much longer (and be worth much more in the long run) than that of the man who simply banked the lot.

  • Comment number 29.

    oh dear. vaughn retains central contract without a shred of form. he hasn't looked better than AVERAGE since he came back from injury over a year ago, to say nothing of his recent county form. i reckon miller's ringing endorsement will sound pretty hollow in 12 months time...

    oh dear. harmison back for a few matches gets selected for the stanford game.. so, geraint, freddy, colly, harmy, jimmy all back in the team...the fletcher test clicque! neil fairbrother will be pleased...

  • Comment number 30.

    A couple of points: why is it always Strauss that is under the media spotlight? And why Vaughan? he's yesterday's man. As a poster further back says: it is a golden handshake for past services: the usual sentimentality: bit like Beckham some would say: and he is still more useful. One sharp twist of the dodgy knee!!!!!!! whereas Strauss is fit, currently getting more runs: though it should be more: Vaughan has yet to pass 20 in a county match since standing down. I don't think any of India/Windies or Oz are losing any sleep. With regard to Stanford: USD7mill of the prize money goes to the ECB/WICB: so he has put his money where his mouth is by putting some of the dough back into the game. Pietersen/Flintoff are going to get massive IPL offers anyway: they will accept and who can blame them.

  • Comment number 31.

    vaughan has NEVER been prolific for yorkshire he needs runs i agree but above all else he needs faith to be shown in him. personally id hav put him and strauss on the lower level of contract since their test specialists but England may need his class and experience next year. He averages over 50 in tests when not skipper remember

  • Comment number 32.

    I think both Strauss and Vaughan are a waste of valuable places for players who "really" want to win. How can the selectors be so crass?Strauss has been worked out by the worlds best bowlers but Strauss hasnt changed his game enough to get over his poor run.Vaughan is not even good enough to play at county level anymore just look at his scores.Its a backwards step when we need a secure and committed winning team.It also sends out a pretty demoralising message to players who have done everything right this year only to be brushed aside.Those two places should go to those in form and who can gel with the current team not has beens.

  • Comment number 33.

    Could this possibly be the reason for Harmison's ODI reversal?, it will be interesting to see how long he stays out of retirement.

  • Comment number 34.

    So right Aggers. What kind of tasteless buffoon gives all this money to a bunch of already wealthy sportsmen? And as you say, this will not discourage interest in IPL, it will increase it.

    He could have used one tenth of this money as a prize to stimulate interest and given the rest to someone who actually needs it: AIDS research, malaria research, you name it.

    Would I turn it down? No, only an idiot would. Is it right? Of course not. If cricket goes down the route of premier league football (greed, petulance, arrogance, failure), it's the beginning of the end.

  • Comment number 35.

    Alistair Cook?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Twenty20?!?!?!?!
    Are you having a laugh!
    I'd rather have Denly any day!

    No seriously Alistair Cook is playing twenty20 for England. Of all the stars seen in the domestic twenty20 they are all shafted for Cook who has been deemed too defensive even for ODIs.

    I don't know whether to laugh or cry!

  • Comment number 36.

    Why must everyone approach this subject in quite such a melancholic and pessimistic tone, I've had quite enough of everyone harking back to some rose-tinted golden age of sportsmanship.

    Jonathon Agnew's comments regarding the announcement of the Stanford team could easily have been predicted, almost to the word, before reading this blog.

    Professional cricket will continue to provide an enjoyable spectacle regardless of the money flowing into player's pockets and test cricket will retain its primacy, at least in this country.

  • Comment number 37.

    Awarding MV a central contract is perverse. He's only been in the team the last 2 years because of his captaincy, not his form.

    Now Pietersen is captain and MV is still out of form, why in God's name has he been given a central contract?!!?!

    If Vaughan gets back into the team, and it'll only be the test team, I will change my name to Geoffrey Boycott and join the Monster Raving Loony Party.

  • Comment number 38.

    Its just a game of cricket!! Not even real cricket, just some T20 fun.....

    It sounds like people on here are just jealous of cricketers getting paid for once. Look at footballers, now that's embarrassing...!!

    I know JA's views about this form of the game are not particularly complimentary, but i enjoyed the IPL this season and will be an avid viewer for years to come. The onlt thing it missed this year was english talent on show, which i'm sure will not be the case next season.

    As regards Vaughan, is it any surprise?? This England management team have shown from the beginning they have no balls and i'm sure things like this will continue. Once a player has been dropped, like Hoggard, his contract should not be renewed. Think of Shah and Bopara, they are the future of England's batting line-up now (and i guess Key too). This is another in a long line of kicks in the teeth for these guys.

  • Comment number 39.

    I agree with number 5. The whole thing Stanford thing makes me feel rather uncomfortable, but I would prefer a few games in October than loosing players for weeks on end to the whole garish IPL circus.
    By choosing the usual English players it can at least look as if it is a warm up for the Indian series, rather than choosing specialist 20/20 players, which would make them look like money grabbers and alienate squad members.

  • Comment number 40.

    "$1 million. Isn't that about £10?" A certain US Open Finalist.

    Aggers raised another astute point referring to players potential involvement in the IPL. anyway, joshing aside, it's a huge sum (ghastly because of it's pecuniary disproportionateness relative to the game). For this reason, the $1 million carrot needs to be offset by a stick approach perhaps tying players to the county EPL and England internationals (complusory touring maybe) plus more.

    Incidentally, I wish that the players' pot was $3.5 million and the ECB picked up the rest.

    I'm quite young and am confused by the Kerry Packer references. Did he lure players with similar sums of money? i.e. is this anything new?

  • Comment number 41.

    I can't believe the amount of people moaning about this being on SKY. So were the test matches and the ODI's. If you dont like it - then subscribe, its good coverage and money is put back into the game in the form of sponsorship etc.

    I dont agree with Aggers either. Lets not lose sight of this. The Stanford competition is a spectacle, nothing more. If the players can win big money then good for them - I doubt he would have turned it down.

    20/20 will never replace test cricket. It is cricket for the masses and if it brings cash into our game then that must be a good thing. Its time to move with the times and stop being such fuddy duddys.

    What was it Will Carling said about old farts? Any coincidence that not too long after they went, we won the Rugby world cup?

  • Comment number 42.

    Whilst this whole concept may be tasteless, as the team are representing the ECB, so the money should be paid to the ECB, with only a proportion of it going to the players. The BBC has concentrated upon Harmison's inclusion, as if he will be representing the ECB on his own and that, following his contributions to recent victories, is equally tasteless.

  • Comment number 43.

    when you put business people in charge of sport, they do business with other business people. when sports people are in chage they do sport. what do you expect/

  • Comment number 44.

    This Stamford stuff does feel odd. Can't imagine the England football team playing for 1 million dollars each against an all-star 11. (maybe, a team like the allied prisoners in "escape to victory")

    Seems, 'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.' But, like must of us, I will still be watching... hopefully for free, on a streaming website on the Internet.

  • Comment number 45.

    nothing wrong with sportsmen being well paid but overpaid is wrong for me,i have already lost intrest
    in the football premier league because there are to many ordianary players getting to much money for nothing.

  • Comment number 46.

    Aggers or anyone who knows, is there any hope for the ashes being listed as an event that must receive terrestrial coverage again, like the six nations and wimbledon?

  • Comment number 47.

    Spot on with the Stanford match. These players aren't representing their country in this match, merely trying to make themselves even richer. When we see someone like KP hit a century or Harmy getting 5 wkts we can see them celebrate because of not only it means to them, but the team, the fans and the country. If one of our boys takes 5 wkts in this farce, all he be doing is celebrating the fact his bank balance may shot up.

    It's tasteless and potentially a negative influence on the camp.

  • Comment number 48.

    I'm absolutely delighted that Michael Vaughan has been awarded a new central contract. Some shortsighted people seem to think these things should only be awarded to in form players. I'm very much a believer of the old saying " form is temporary, class is permanent", and that's ceretainly the case with Vaughan.

    The timing of this award could be a massive boost for him ahead of Yorkshire's final two County Championship matches of the season. Obviously there's no guarantee Vaughan will be selected for the winter tours of India or the West Indies just because he's got a central contract, as Strauss found out last year, but this is a clear indication, not only from the selectors but also from Kevin Pietersen, that they still feel Vaughan has a role to play.

    It will be easier said than done, but all Vaughan has to do now is justify the faith of the selectors and Pietersen. With no obvious alternatives to Vaughan, or at least none with his experience and track record, I would like to see him in the squad to tour India. If he doesn't return to form with Yorkshire before the end of the season it's good to hear that he's prepared to work on his form overseas before the India tour.

  • Comment number 49.

    How on Earth is Alistair Cook in the squad??
    Smacks of looking after the test squad (except poor old Monty) to me. If he is one of Englands best 20/20 / one day player then the selectors are truly a bunch of muppets. Am I right in thinking that during the 'trial' with him opening, there was a considerable media coverage when he actually managed to score his 1st one day six! I just feel sorry for all the consistent one day players that havent even had a sniff - so much for the views of Atherton et al's comments during the abandoned game at Cardiff, that a wildcard would get in the squad!
    Absolutely shocking:(

  • Comment number 50.

    could I just say, I'd rather listen to John Arlott than have to put up with the tasteless inane drivel that gets served up by your current cricket correspondent, surely IPL must have the money to lure him away from the BBC please:)

  • Comment number 51.

    The inclusion of Vaughan's name amongst the central contracts is frankly a bit of a worry. The recent performances of the England team have just got better and better in Vaughan's absence. Why compromise their momentum? There are shades of David Beckham about all of this. To pick a player on the grounds of what he can do is far removed from what he actually is doing. Vaughan's record against Australia is indeed impressive but I fear the form and confidence of yesteryear is now firmly in his rear view mirror. I have been a huge fan of Vaughan and would pay to go and watch his cover drive but now is the time to face reality and move on. I would love him to prove me wrong but fear that sentiment has got in the way of reason on this occasion.

  • Comment number 52.

    which players make up the stanford superstars?

  • Comment number 53.

    I don't give a toss about Stanford or Twenty20, but I'm extremely glad to see Vaughan get his contract back.

    I would LOVE to see him opening (with Cook) either in the next Test series or the one after that. The man is simply one of the most experienced and best equipped batsmen we've got to take on the Indians and Aussies, and I'm confident that a combination of KP's faith in him (a la Flintoff and Harmison) and the removal of the burden of captaincy will see him return to the form we haven't seen from him since 2003 when he was the #1 rated batsman in the world.

    He's got a good couple of years left in him now to leave an indelible mark on English Test cricket. Nothing would make me happier than to see him fired up and in form when the Ashes roll around next year.

    Stuff your Twenty20 - I'd rather listen to paint dry.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    Re reply one and the comdenation of Sky.
    Without Sky, cricket would not be in the position it is today. Where were the terestrial channels before Sky. No overseas tours were broadcast, not even highlights. Home test matches were often interupted by horse racing.

    It's good and well everyone having a go at Sky, but surely they cannot be blamed for securing a market that no one else appeared interested in.

  • Comment number 56.

    #54...what an ironic name you've given yourself. You manage a personal and vitriolic attack under the veil of anonymity. Are you so brave in real life?

  • Comment number 57.

    “ What happens when Sky and Stanford walk away from the game and there is no cash left ?

    Why isn't anybody standing up to this and saying no? ”


    Hi GayErnie - this article might provide some context...

    Hope helpful

  • Comment number 58.

    I agree with everything you say aggers. But frankly this is the way cricket is going. How can cricket keep players motivated for long international careers when they can earn enough in one meaningless match to sustain themselves for life. I don't care who wins this stupid stanford match. But england's players would now rather win this match than the Ashes - (even if they wouldn't say so) - how can that be good for the game! I care about the future of the game - that does not mean I am anti Twenty20 - but I am anti-Stanford and the greedy short-termist business minded ECB who have tossed away much of the tremendous opportunity that came from the Ashes in 2005.

  • Comment number 59.

    i would like to complain about the people complain about the people who complain about Aggers' complaints...if Aggers makes very loftly comments then that sets up the spirit of the debate that follows..surely this is just answering like with like? those of u who make the complaints tend to agree with Aggers so it seems to be just a matter of opinion afterall...i for one enjoy strong cricket banter and feel that's all most of us are doing whether we agree with Aggers or not...but surely when he is so opinionated, in such a typical english old school way, it simply fules quite aggressive responses. for example if u read Marks or Roebuck they have fairly similar views to Aggers but they state it in a more calm and less uppity "raa raa booo" manner so they attract less banter in return. as for the issue at hand...what a great match is in store...many of u traditionalists forget that the stanford games have already inspired much in my beloved west indies where we cannot afford NOT to take up sponsorship deals. when words like "vulgar" are used it leaves a bit of a sour taste in my trini mouth. we all have our different ways, ok.

  • Comment number 60.

    I am pleased that Vaughan has been given a Central Contract and I am sure he will answer all his critics including those on this board.

    However, why is Strauss singled out as the likely candidate to be dropped? Surely Ian Bell's record should also come under more scrutiny!

    In Tests, he has scored centuries only when another player has scored a century - he has not scored a century under very high pressure - as Cook, Strauss, Vaughan, Pietersen and Collingwood have all done.

    In ODIs, he has flattered to deceive and putting him in as an opener seems like a final throw of the dice for a player that just does not deliver the results in the middle order.

  • Comment number 61.

    To this traditional cricket lover and ex player the whole concept of 20/20 cricket debases the game as a whole and how the authorities have got themselves into bed with the self publicist Mr Stanford beggars belief.

    I sincerely hope that my gut feeling about 20/20 being a flash in the pan is borne out and that Mr Stanford discovers that our beautiful game is not a cash cow for his personal aggrandisement and that the ECB are given a rude awakening that there is only so much tinkering that the public will countenance.

    Test Cricket as played by the top 4 or 5 countries at the moment is what the game is all about.

  • Comment number 62.

    money in sport....stinks.

  • Comment number 63.

    I have listened to Aggers all Summer on this Stanforrd issue and I honestly think he has got things completely out of proportion. There is and has always been since the emergence of Botham a differerntial level of reward for certain players in the gane (go back to Compton if you need to). So what? If 15 0r 11 or 3 players in the England set up get a super pay day for one or 10 games why do I care? I adore cricket, have supported Sussex and England for 30 of my 37 years and I won't change as long as I see commitment , unity, purpose and thrilling cricket. from England. Bradman, Sobers , Hutton. Boycott and even Grace would not have turned this down. Just constantly banging on about 'what happens if there are overthrows on the last ball' is frankly pointless. This has been the tone of every interview Aggers has done this year and tonight's Blog is just carrying on the theme. Let's see what happens to the overall England performance over the next 3 years before we judge tthis thing. I don't fancy it much myself but please Aggers let it go - you are a great journo and broadcaster but you are getting obsessed. Uppy.

  • Comment number 64.

    Whilst I wholeheartedly agree about the divisive and tasteless aspect of this tournament in principle, I cannot help but feel that this extra incentive (cash) has spurred the England players on in the one-dayers against SA, and that was one motivating factor behind the series win.

    I hope I am wrong about that, as I don't believe for a second that this deal will ultimately be good for world cricket in general. I was an avid football fan for a number of years and saw it get destroyed by the influx of huge amounts of money, and have now almost completely lost interest in the game. This may be a very pessimistic view, but I hope this does not happen to cricket.

    Re: Michael Vaughan. I am disappointed that he's got a central contract to be honest. And I certainly don't see how Andrew Strauss's place is under threat from him. At the moment he's just not good enough. Not giving him a central contract would have made him more determined to get his place back. Now he has a safety net.

  • Comment number 65.

    Unfortunately Cricket costs a lot to finance at First class levels and without the Sky money it would slowly die a protracted death...with notable organisations like the Beeb, ITV and C4 only interested in financing tawdry reality shows there is no real choice but to sell the game to the highest bidder.

    I too hope that money will not ruin the game I love...but, international players will not play for love of the game nowadays and this is a fact we must face and embrace in the long run to ensure the surviavl of the greatest game in the World.

  • Comment number 66.

    Aggers' article was, as usual very perceptive. I confess I find the whole Stanford Twenty20 issue a bit confusing, but this may be because I haven't made much effort to understand it.

    So I think Aggers hits the nail on the head when he says:

    "There will, of course, be some sort of macabre interest in this first match of its kind but of much greater importance to me is the discovery over the coming months of exactly what the deal is between the ECB and Sir Allen Stanford, particularly the depth of his involvement in the English Premier League."

    Noone can have a problem with lots of losh coming into the game, even if it's only for a sideshow, if a good chunk of it trickles down, or up (!), to where it's really needed. The danger that the ECB might, over time, lose its rights to the organisation, regulation and broadcasting of the T20 events must be very real. I can see no other way of interpreting Aggers' words.

  • Comment number 67.

    On reflection, Mega Spur you make an excellent point. Hopefully in the next year or so we will know more about what is going to be done with the money. Hopefully we will see an end product.

  • Comment number 68.

    I am assuming that with Vaughan being offered a central contract, the most mickey mouse decision in eth history of cricket, any England player dropped to make way for him as the right of appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

    Thanks to his appalling form both for England and the embarrassed Yorkshire who were forced to take him back, his lack of motivation, the negative effect he dispels all around him, a central contract was on the cards for a man who on current form should be in the 2nd X1 of a minor county.

    More madness of King George from England's selectors who have shown that they are totally devoid of any reality. Peterson's girlfriend would have been a better selection than Vaughan and would have almost certainly scored more runs!

    What a complete nonesense decision.


  • Comment number 69.

    #48, I totally agree. Awarding central contracts on form is ridiculous, just look how Bell and Collingwood have been in and out of form in the space of a few weeks.

    Whether Vaughan can recapture the phenomenal levels of performance of his pre-captaincy days is open to debate but he has been a fantastic servant to English cricket, has been our most successful captain and deserves the faith of the selectors for another year.

  • Comment number 70.

    if as seems to be the concensous with no one liking Sandford, then the answer is very simple. simply do not follow the match in any way shape or form. make it a PR disaster for this profit munching Yank. ok i accept the media might cover it the first time, but if the there is no demand or interest from the public no one will care about future matches. we are very good at whinging and whining but perhaps we should try and for once actually do something.

  • Comment number 71.

    Well said Aggers. The Stanford 20/20 is the most vile display of international cricket we are ever likely to see. The rifts that could be created in the squad are unimaginable and a lot of people could come to regret signing up to it.

    No matter what any player may say about being professional if they are not picked, in a situation where this could set up some people financially for life, there are bound to be damaged relationships within the team.

    As for Vaughan I think if he can prove himself then he is worth Strauss' place. Provided that he can step aside on the pitch and let KP do his job. It will be tough for Vaughan not to think "well I would do such and such" during a match and that will be a huge test for him.

  • Comment number 72.

    What is the problem? A billionaire wants to throw some money at some lucky England players. The current ODI squad are the fortunate players who stand to benefit, whick is fair and logical. Would be nicer if the cash were shared out a bit more but why look a gift horse in the mouth? No one will "lose" from this initiative, some people may gain a lot. Seems like an old English attitude of pulling down the rich instead of helping up the poor is the cause of most of the complaints. I say good luck to them, and hope it inspires greater efforts to win places in the future.

    Of course they still have to win or it all comes to nothing anyway...

  • Comment number 73.

    Hi uppy77, #63; I read your post several times because I thought it was very interesting.

    There may have been differential levels of remuneration of cricketers since the days of Botham, maybe even Compton, as in any top-level sporting activity. But I very much doubt whether the differential was ever much more than 3,4 or five to one, much less I suspect.

    Today's situation is on a completely different plane and, even if some of the imaginary situations which might give rise to conflicts between players have been a bit exaggerated, it is easy to understand how they might happen in the current environment and they make good press fodder.

    On the whole, I welcome changes, even such radical ones as this in our beloved game. I have never had any wish to miss seeing that a steamroller was coming and fail to get out of its way.

    Like you, I have been following cricket for a very long time, in my case Somerset, that me dad played for once.

    I seriously think that we cricket-lovers must be vigilant to ensure that the Twenty20 obsession does not leave us all widowers (or widows), having lost our beloved to some filthy rich ba....d.

    My previous posting, #66, a little more measured than this one in its final cadences, refers.

  • Comment number 74.

    Yeah , I know, (the bit about widows and widowers) but some times you have to say ridiculous things to get people to sit up and listen and REPLY.

    Another way of getting a fairly rapid response is to complain about the poor use of the English language ( nothing new there) and especially of internet slang in the BBC blogs. You only have to tell people they have no idea what lol or LOL means for them to come crashing down on your head. Curiously, I can't remember seeing lol or LOL used n the cricket blogs. It is the football fans who are especially adept at this kind of thing.


  • Comment number 75.

    It seems I may be on a hat-trick, three uninterrupted contributions in succession, so I will mention the decision to continue to give Michael Vaughan a central contract. I can understand where this is coming from and I respect your view Aggers, but NO, it is not the right thing to do.

    Michael Vaughan resigned, not so much because his captaincy was being questioned , but because he had completely lost his touch as one of the most elegant and effective English batsmen of recent years. Is he likely to be able to regain his form at Yorkshire? Doesn't look like it. And if he goes to Hampshire? Don't think so. Maybe he should come down to Somerset where runs flow off the bat like water off a duck's back.

    Seriously, nothing would please me more than to see Vaughany doing well again, really well, well enough to get back in the Test team. He could be a very good England opening batsman again, almost certainly his best position in the batting order, even if he couldn't expect to occupy that position at Somerset (Tresco, Langer, the best opening pair in English county cricket).

    So I really don't see why he should enjoy a central contract.

  • Comment number 76.

    The problem I have with the ECB is not coming up with the idea ( or at least another idea)in the first place! The "divisive" selection issue is one that is made day in day out in all forms of professional life. You get the job or you don't get the job.
    So, Mr Agnew, don't blame the ECB for having put the selectors in the invidious position of having to select a team. Why not blame them of being too slow to catch a cold.
    Money is at the core of the decision making process to stage the series, and why not this is a professional sport. Stanford is merely a conduit for TV money, he is not a philanthropist, call him the WIPL if you like.
    However, I am very sad that cricket is in danger of being fully controlled by TV, but at least the ECB are naive enough to not realise it. Whereas the subcontinent's boards have embraced TV and will soon be under their thumbs, then next it will be the ICC............

  • Comment number 77.

    Why all this ranting about money in cricket? We can have both money and good cricket.

    Would you like to go back 50 years when legendary players had to do humiliating work just to feed their families in winter? Anyone who thinks that money in sport is a terrible thing, please respond to the following.
    1. You are unemployed.
    2. You will get no dole.
    3. You should not complain, after all, everything should not be about money.

    Good on yer England Players, milk Stanford for all he is worth.

  • Comment number 78.

    Stanford, ICL et all are good for the game. More cricket means more opportunity for lower level players to play county cricket.

    As a Nottinghamshire fan my example is Sidebottom and Broad (and others) who rarely play for the county so others get the chance to play.

    You could 'nit pick' that example, but my point is that more cricket means more players. Remember in the 60's and 70's many were predicting the demise of cricket. The game is now flourishing and all these different formats of the game are the reason.

  • Comment number 79.

    To be honest I think the England team has moved on in the short time since Vaughan retired as Captain. His form does not justify a recall and it is hard to see where they are going to slot him in even if he does start batting like a millionaire (sorry, probably not the right simile these days!).
    A contract seems to be a reward for past services. His future in cricket probably lies in a management/selectorial role particularly with the Ashes on the horizon.

  • Comment number 80.

    Re Oldmanwillow's post - yest just to clarify I am with you on 20/20. I dont particularly like or dislike it, have been to Hove a few times and to be honest its a good night out. But it isnt nor will it ever be cricket. We need to preserve Test cricket in all its glory its the greatest game of all. I think 20/20 will continue to be popular but the British public are not stupid. I still talk about things I saw at Test matches 20 years ago. I cant remmember a single ball of the 10 or so 20/20 games I watched on TV this year. Quite what Stanford's motives are or who the hell he thinks he is to start messing with our game - well I have to agree with Aggers on that.


  • Comment number 81.

    I agree with you no 68, how on earth in any fair and decent world can Vaughan be given a central contract. I've been listening to all this, he's a great captain, form is temporary tosh and it's harder in tests than county cricket for ages. Well Vaughan isn't captain anymore and he's back playing county cricket, where many players have excelled this year and his form is just as pathetic as it has been for England but these other players don't get a look in because it's still a private club run by buffoons. There is a funny smell around this current England team which people are overlooking because we've been successful against a SA team that have played very poorly. Don't people notice the way Pietersen's friends are all getting chance after chance. One good innings from Colly and his terrible recent form is overlooked and even worse no good innings from Vaughan and he still gets a lucrative undeserved central contract if Denley had been bought in and had 2 poor matches he'd have to wait 3 years and score a dozen ceturies before he'd get another sniff but for others, oh yes that's right they've played well in the past and they're chummy with the powers that be, so let them have some more undeserved gravy.

  • Comment number 82.

    Can't agree with you about Vaughan. He has not been the same batsman for 3 odd years in my opinion, with the very off excpetional innings. I can't believe any impartial observer would not think Shah is better placed to be first reserve batter for the team. There is no evidence that Vaughan will be able to re-discover his form at Test level therefore this decision is just a very expensive punt.

  • Comment number 83.

    Happy for Vaughan to retain his contract - he may be out of form but who would've batted Freddie at five in the ODI's?

    Having said that, the 20/20 selection does seem to be based solely on a) ensuring the established players can get their money and b) keeping them away from the IPL which obviously won't work anyway. Cook? In a 20/20 squad? Surely its bowling all-rounders you want if you're genuinely picking a squad to win the thing - Napier, Mascarenhas etc.

    Can't help but thinking 81 has a valid point about the same old players getting chance after chance - the powers that be just couldn't bring themselves to leave anyone out.

  • Comment number 84.

    The most sensible way to avoid divisiveness is to follow the lead of the great Bobby Moore. According to the biog of Jimmy Armfield, BM was asked immediately after the 66' World Cup Final how the bonus pool of 22,000 should be divided. His reply was "thats easy 22 players in the squad 1,000 each" even though some squad members had not featured in a single game. However I understand this has been explicitly forbidden under the Stanford contract is this correct? If so this appears to either be completely gauche or deliberately confrontational which says something about the character of our new "benefactor".

  • Comment number 85.

    Hmm, I've just had another look at the squad and, apart from Cook, it looks about right after all.

    But where's Pattinson??!!

    One chance and they've kicked him to the kerb already...

  • Comment number 86.

    central contract for vaughan and harmison in the stanford squad - jobs for the boys!

  • Comment number 87.

    Aggers - I fear you are taking a slightly narrow-minded view of the Stanford circus. Surely any effort to boost the game in West Indies - where as we all know cricket faces competition from basketball, football and athletics - and maybe even the US, is to be welcomed? I'm not a big fan of 20/20 (I find it boring) but the fact is it's going to be the way to bring new fans into the game in the future.

    As for Vaughan, it's a brave decision but I agree the right one. If we're going to get the Ashes back next summer I think it will be with a resurgent MV opening the batting.

  • Comment number 88.

    Great set of responses!

    If the fact that 2 teams will play for one of the biggest pots in sport shines a spotlight on Cricket, fantastic.

    If this game gets a slot on network news in the states and a little interest is created, brilliant.

    If Cricket as a whole benefits who cares if the current crop of players stand to make a few quid out of it - $1,000,000 (£566,000ish) is enough to pay of their mortgages and make their very long retirements more comfortable but put it into perspective. By my calculations £566,000 equates to 5 weeks work for a top professional footballer. That professional footballer will earn that every 5 weeks making about £8m a year ($16.5m) - this Stanford game is once a year for 5 years, very few players in this first one will be around to see the payday in the last one. Don't get me wrong it's a shedfull of cash but don't grudge them the oportunity.

    As for the other arguements about the EWCB selling it's soul to the devil and accusing Stanford of bigging himself up, I think it would be better to wait and see the outcome.

    Don't forget they haven't won the cash yet!

  • Comment number 89.

    Think this whole circus is a bad day not just for cricket, but for sport.

    A million quid to beat one of the poorer sides in world cricket - complete nonsense, and anyone who says this will not drive a massive wedge into the palying fraternity is deluded. This whole business is mercenary, which is the complete antithesis to team sport.

    With big bucks comes big temptation - Cronje and Gibbs are testament to that - who knows what players will be tempted to do - pull out of a county game, even an england game here to rest, drop a catch for an extra few quid? Its a possibility, and I like Aggers find the whole situation distasteful - mainly because players will be playing as individuals, looking to see what they can do next, and the team, especially thier counties which have out them in that position in the first place, will be left in thier wake.

  • Comment number 90.

    RE Number 13.
    I played Club Cricket in England with Rayon Griffith (Guyana). He was part of the Guyana squad to win the first ever Stanford T20.
    The whole squad and coaches etc, agreed to split the winnings equally between them.
    Even man of the match monies all went into a pool, and was split at the end of the tournament.

  • Comment number 91.

    36 You ask:

    'Why must everyone approach this subject in quite such a melancholic and pessimistic tone'

    and round off your post with a rather blase:

    'Professional cricket will continue to provide an enjoyable spectacle regardless of the money'

    to which I wholeheartedly disagree.

    The moment the IPL was conceived with the backing of huge sponsorship revenue the writing was on the wall for cricket as we enjoy it now.

    New Zealand have led the way in what is likely to happen to the test form of the game insofar as we have had players retiring from test cricket earlier than would have been the case, and players including their captain joining the tour party for this year's tour to England at the last minute to satisfy their IPL commitments.

    The power of the IPL to disrupt other forms of the game doesn't stop there either. Sri Lanka were invited to England to cover for Zimbabwe not too long ago. At first everything seemed fine, the fixtures were pencilled in, both national boards were in agreement and then, of course, many of the Sri Lankan players realised the new fixtures would clash with their IPL commitments. I've not heard whether the problems were resolved but the power of the IPL to disrupt test cricket is obvious.

    We have had the ECB and other cricket boards cowering at the Indian Cricket Council as they have woken up to the power of that old chestnut 'money talks' and the rather ludicrous situation of the ECB now trying to act like King Canute in a vain attempt to turn the inevitable tide of India's IPL controlling the game.

    Perhaps Indian control with their HUGE fan base is no bad thing? Perhaps, but rather than acting in the interests of cricket this shift of power acts only in the interests of money. All in all what is happening to the game smacks of a coup by proxy - a coup by corporations. When was the last time a corporation you know acted altruistically without any thought for itself or profit?

    I fear we may see a split in the game in the near future akin to rugby football with one form of the game, governed by money and TV rights breaking away to become a game in its own right; with rule changes to satisfy sponsors and television stations' requirements and perhaps even separate cricket councils governing the 20/20 game.

    That would leave the traditional form of the game with a depleted grass roots base, and an ever-diminishing crop of youngsters coming up through a weakened infrastructure.

    You might still say 'so what' in which case, good luck to you. For myself, test cricket is the absolute pinnacle of the game. I once tried to explain to an American how it is possible to play a game for 5 days and still get a draw. He just didn't get it. To him, something wasn't worth watching unless there was a hit of instant gratification every few minutes and an assured result. He wouldn't understand the romance, history, tension, drama and sheer battle of wills that is test cricket - not that that's his fault, of course.

    In some countries, test cricket has withered on the vine somewhat, as evidenced by poor match attendances, decreased numbers of fixtures (the amount of tests New Zealand has played in the past few years is a joke) and the popularity of other sports. IMHO, test cricket now faces, at best, an uncertain future kowtowing to the 20/20 format, and at worst a fight for its very existence.

  • Comment number 92.

    Ref No.89

    I hate what football has become. However, in football each player has their own, individually negotiated contract. Everyone in the team has a different pay scale and I'm sure there is quite a difference between what they earn. In some cases the highest paid players get lambasted for their performances, effort, commitment etc but there doesn't seem to be a high level of disharmoney amongst team mates over how much they earn. If it was rife we'd read about it - football is the most reported upon sport after all.

    Maybe, just maybe, the fact that the rewards at the top of the game are so massive it will inspire the rank and file county player to up their performances to put themselves in contention. This is the exact oposite of football where the clubs provide the vast majority of a players income and the cash incentive to play for England (for example) is minimal.

    I don't know how things will turn out but one should trust the professionalism and integrety of the players. Afterall the temptation to take a bung of some description must be greater without $1m dollars in your pocket than with it! Cronje's actions were actually testament to the temptations of bribes from bookmakers in a pre-20/20 world of cricket where the rewards were not as high. The loss of a career in cricket in the 90's was less of a financial risk than it would be now. Also, any inducements offered to a player now would need to be massive. Didn't Cronje accept one for £5000 and a leather jacket? I can't see that being very tempting to anyone now.

  • Comment number 93.

    No 91

    A very well written, articulate, and mostly acurate post.

    However, I disagree regarding your comparison to T20 and Rugby League.

    The two codes of Rugby have always been separate (League being a Northern Sport, traditionally for the working class along the M62 corridor - Union being more of a Southern Public School Boy affair) - Therefore this can not be used as a direct comparison to Cricket and the T20 revolution.

    Furthermore, Test cricket in England, and Australia is still, and always will be the pinnacle of the game. (New Zealand's lack of Test Cricket is a disgrace. Maybe the ICC should sanction a ruling, stating that countries playing less than X amount of Tests can't compete in ODI Tournaments????)

    T20 will continue to grow, but will never surpass Tests Matches in England or Australia.

    Real cricket fans appreciate the Test format, and will always watch. Whereas the corporate football fans engulfing T20 won't sustain the popularity increase of the past 12 months. Interest will wain. (Only in the sub-continent might it continue).

    Then there are the players.
    All sports men want to test themselves. You can only truly do that in a Test Match. They aren't exactly paupers are they. So I beleive that they will ultimately choose Central Contracts over the IPL. (Well, most of them).

  • Comment number 94.

    RE number 81.

    I understand your point.

    However, you pick the team which you beleive has the best chance of winning.

    We KNOW M.P. Vaughan can score big match winning hundreds regardless of the bowling. (Just because he hasn't recently, doesn't meen he won't. The key is that he CAN).

    The selectors are looking at next summer's Ashes. And they are fully aware, that to win them, they need a strong batting unit. And someone who can score big hundreds.

    They are therefore going for Vaughan, who could well smash 166 like he did in 2005, or 197 like in 2002/03, or 188 like in 2002/03.

    He has pedigree against the Aussies.

    I'd rather have Vaughan batting for my life in a Test Match against the Aussies than Shah, Ramprakash, or anyone else currently playing.

    You may well disagree with the selectors choice for Vaughans central contract. But I'm sure they are far more qualified to make that decision.

  • Comment number 95.

    Aggers is right,what a divisive selection that smacks of jobs for the boys. Firstly,no specialist batsman who is not a big hitter should ever be selected for 20-20 oe even limited overs given power plays in the opening overs so how can selecting Mr Alistair Cook be in the best interests of England??? White washing South Africa does give most of that squad the rights to play this Stanford game,and the obvious improvement to the side would be the addition of KP´s Hampshire captain Dimi,the only Englishman to play IPL so far.
    I dont know Michael Vaughan personally, so I can appreciate the desire of his friends to see him do well.Unfortunately the past 3 years of his career have seen such an array of low scores as to make it impossible to forsee any future return to form or even justify him a place in the Yorkshire first XI other than the drawcard of his name. At a time when there are many superb cricketers playing the county game there are no shortage of talented in form batsmen worthy of a place in our lineup who will score runs if selected.Hopefully this final central contract is no more than a pension payoff,perhaps in the new years honours list a grateful nation can make him Sir Michael and a career on Sky beckons I hope. Never again in our batting lineup, professional cricket is a young mans game and few remain at the highest level for more than 5 years, and now England needs her best players, not the selectors old chums (unless perhaps Sir Alec Bedser would make himself available to captain England for the Ashes )

  • Comment number 96.

    Either Jonathan Agnew lives so far in past that his ability to contribute to a blog is nothing short of miraculous or his objections to Stanford are borne of sour grapes! Professional sportsmen and women reap justifiably large rewards for their skill and athleticism, why should cricket be any different? The selection will not be tasteless (unless one is driven by gnawing jealousy) and it will not be divisive - currently, high profile cricketers receive generous sponsorship deals, but only if they are first selected for the starting 11 of their country; does the non-selection of the 'nearly-men' cause division? No, of course it doesn't and neither will Stanford. I wish that just for once, Agnew would at least try to see the positive side of something..... anything!

  • Comment number 97.

    Fair comment on Stanford Aggers,but, even if it has no revelance to many a purist you can be sure that the grounds will be packed, American people will start to sit up and take notice and the players, if they win, will earn a nice few bob. In todays world there aint anything wrong with that.
    With regards to the general 20/20 debate. Have you ever tried to get a ticket for a 20/20? They're like gold dust, the grounds are packed, full of families, having a great few hours of exciting cricket (as they see it). It exposes a lot of new people to cricket and brings in valuable revenue to the Counties.
    The "Establishment" stronghold on cricket is slowly being eroded, and they, worst of all cannot tolerate change. The game as a whole needs running "professionally" rather than the "old farts" in the MCC et al messing things up.
    I agree, however, about Sky and money. It has destroyed premier league football, leaving the average fan disillusioned and returning to watch "grass roots" football in lower leagues for genuine entertainment.
    Regarding the Michael Vaughan debate, no, he should not have got a central contract. 29 in three innings does not bode well. Good servant, yes, but so was Hoggy. Shah should have been given it and MV on the incremental.
    Cook in the ODI'S and 20/20,? for Gods sake why?....he's a Test specialist, same as Strauss (when he learns to bat again!)
    So, whats the answer, dunno really, but, for sure, it's going to be a very interesting journey!

  • Comment number 98.

    I take an interest in cricket, but as I am scottish, living in scotland there are many aspects I dont understand.

    Firstly, what is Stanford going to gain from putting his money into these matches? It seems a bit crazy to me. Is he the Abramovich of the cricket world? Secondly, why is this such a bad thing?

    Any time I hear Jonathan Agnew speak he is always moaning, he is never ever happy about anything in cricket. Im not going to take his opinion into account but I am not surprised many here agree with him.

    Agnew is a leading example of the stuffy, backward impression that I often see represnting cricket. Cricket could be a big game in Scotland but my fellow countrymen are never going to buy into a game that is almost repressed by people like Agnew.

    I disagree on both his points here. The chance for cricketers to earn a bit of extra cash surely isnt a bad thing. Will the ECB gain cash or is it all going to the players.

    Secondly, I totally disagree with Vaughan getting a central contract. He is showing no form so perhaps it would be best to give him a year out to concentrate on getting his game together again.

  • Comment number 99.

    MV was the finest opening batsman in the
    world some years ago in Australia and a joy to watch. Great players in their prime usually are. He was also a good captain (no more) and can take credit for
    captaining the Ashes-winning side in 2005.
    However, as a current player, he does not deserve a central contract. He would not be picked for any county side at present, and to pretend otherwise is an insult to any
    cricket fan.

  • Comment number 100.

    I refer to comment 71 about how devicive giving a slect few the oportnity to set themselves up for life.

    This is 1 million dollars not pounds. Just over half a million quid is not going to go very far if, like most professional, sportsmen you are retired by 35.

    Half a million quid to support yourself until your 80 - just over 11 grand a year! get a grip, your average footballer loses that playing cards on the way to a match. (Yes, I know there are investment possibilities)

    Us normal guy's who don't earn hundreds of thousands of pounds a minute find it hard to look at these sort of sums rationally.

    I begrudge soccer players what they earn because it seems to me that playing for England is less important to tham than it should be. I don't think that the same can be said of the English cricket team. The highest paid players are the centrally contracted ones and to be centrally contracted takes some doing (I am not going to comment on MV here) Therefore, in cricket the accolades, the prestige the money are all focussed towards the elite end of the sport.

    Doesn't that mean that the incentive is there for whichever type of person you are to reach the highest level?

    Did Ryan Sidebottom run in for 5 years hoping to get back into the test team because he needed the money or because he was driven to greater things within his chosen profession?

    I don't care what the answer is to that question. He did enough hard graft to get where he's got whatever his motivation and deserves all he gets for his effort and ability. (Mr Sidebottom's name having been plucked out of the sky. No implication intended)

    As an ex-girlfriend of mine once said "don't knock it 'til you've tried it"


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