(Reuters) -England test captain Ben Stokes has been handed a one-year central contract, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) said on Tuesday as it revealed a new multi-year system.
British media reported that Stokes, who earlier this year said it was understandable to see players refusing contracts with England in favour of playing in lucrative T20 tournaments, had turned down the option of signing a multi-year deal.
However, Rob Key, managing director of England men’s cricket, downplayed any concerns, saying the 32-year-old all-rounder was just keeping his options open.
“Normally the contracts follow the broadcasting cycle and the next broadcasting cycle starts next year. At that point you can renegotiate and change the way you do contracts,” Key told Sky Sports.
“… Like with all contracts, Ben will feel that if you’ve got one year you’re in a stronger negotiating position but by no means does it mean that Ben Stokes doesn’t want to play for England.”
England’s Harry Brook, Joe Root and Mark Wood have been handed three-year central contracts, while white-ball captain Jos Buttler was given a two-year contract.
“The system, which covers both red-ball and white-ball players, considers the likelihood of players featuring in England teams across formats over the next period while recognising performances in the preceding year,” the ECB said in a statement.
“Multi-year contracts have been awarded for the first time since central contracts were established in 2000.”
Brook, 24, is among seven players to have been given a central contract for the first time along with Rehan Ahmed, Gus Atkinson, Brydon Carse, Ben Duckett, Matthew Potts and Josh Tongue – who have all got two-year contracts.
“We are rewarding those players who we expect to make a significant impact over the coming years playing for England,” Key said in a statement.
Batter Dawid Malan, who missed out on a full deal last year, was given a one-year contract off the back of his red-hot form in recent months, while veteran bowler James Anderson was also handed a one-year deal.
Matthew Fisher, John Turner and Saqib Mahmood have been given development contracts.
In 2021, England switched to a new system of central contracts which was a departure from the previous separation of red-ball and white-ball deals the ECB introduced in 2016.
Three-year contracts: Harry Brook, Joe Root, Mark Wood
Two-year contracts: Rehan Ahmed, Jofra Archer, Gus Atkinson, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Brydon Carse, Zak Crawley, Sam Curran, Ben Duckett, Liam Livingstone, Ollie Pope, Matthew Potts, Adil Rashid, Josh Tongue, Chris Woakes
One-year contracts: Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Ben Foakes, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Reece Topley
Development contracts: Matthew Fisher, Saqib Mahmood, John Turner
(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris)