The Professional Cricketers’ Association has called for a review into the draft system for the men’s Hundred after receiving reports of player discontent over perceived local bias in the selection of squads.
The union warned in 2019 that unless recruitment for the new tournament was fully independent, players could begin to pursue county contracts at the host clubs in the hope of boosting their chances of a deal in the Hundred. The long-term fear is this will create a two-tier professional system with eight “super-counties”.
This principle was rejected and though eight overseas head coaches were then hired, there have been complaints from players that host counties possibly influenced selection in the Hundred draft – staged in late 2019, before a redraft this year – while some non-host counties, which are supposedly still linked to franchises, stayed out of it.
Certainly in the first season of the Hundred there are three men’s sides with a strong leaning towards their corresponding host counties in their 15-man squads: Northern Superchargers, who play at Headingley, have seven Yorkshire cricketers; Oval Invincibles feature six from Surrey; and Trent Rockets have five from Nottinghamshire.
Daryl Mitchell, the PCA’s director of cricket operations, ha detto al Guardian: “There are around 96 men’s players involved in the tournament and 350 who are not, so there will always be conversations about selection and those who will feel aggrieved.
“But what was sold to the players originally was an independent general manager or list manager for each Hundred team, which we were fully in support of, only for a bit of push back from the counties to keep it more in-house.
“Even with eight overseas head coaches, there could potentially be a lack of knowledge of the county game among some, which may then see them rely on host venues or directors of cricket at those clubs for help with players.
“Some county directors of cricket being involved in the original televised draft [nel 2019] didn’t look great either, not that I’d question the integrity of those individuals. But a lot of it is to do with perception. That’s been put to the ECB and it’s been agreed there needs to be a review of how it works after the first season.”
The issue is among a number recently discussed during the first meeting of the new PCA Advocacy Group. This 12-strong panel, chaired by Mitchell and featuring the England captains Eoin Morgan and Heather Knight, will meet twice a year with the intention of becoming a leading voice for players in the English game.
As well as recruitment in the Hundred, the panel has called for stricter regulation of protective equipment amid the debate over the short-ball form in cricket. It also wants a review into the current salary deductions for non-centrally contracted county cricketers who secure deals to play in the Indian Premier League.
The panel also discussed early teething problems faced by the 41 newly contracted domestic women’s cricketers, including issues over access to training facilities and payment structures.