Jofra Archer, who left the Indian Premier League season midway, looks to have been offered a long-term contract by Mumbai Indians. Image Credit: Sportzpics for BCCI

New Delhi: On pacer Jofra Archer being reportedly offered a year-long contract by Mumbai Indians, England men’s Test head coach Brendon McCullum admits that the game is going in a different direction from what it is right now.

As per a report in Daily Mail, Archer is set to be offered a year-round, multi-million-pound deal by the five-time IPL winning team that would require the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to gain permission from the IPL franchise to pick him for England’s international matches. As of now, Archer has left IPL 2023 due to a long-standing right elbow injury.

Shifting of the sand

“In the end, the game is going in a different direction. In the last few years, there’s been a shifting of the sand somewhat around international cricket and we’d be completely naive to think that players would turn down huge amounts of money on long-term contracts for a lot less work in these T20 leagues because they should be playing international cricket. Those days are fast approaching to be over,” said McCullum to the SENZ Breakfast show.

McCullum, the former New Zealand captain, also feels that similar contracts by franchises will challenge the world of international cricket.

Having the cake and eating it

“So, what you’ve got to do is you’ve got to work with these players, you got to work with these leagues and try and allow ideally players to have their cake and eat it too because you want your best players playing (international cricket).

“It’s not good enough to say, ‘You know what if they don’t want to play international cricket for us, then we’ll move on and find someone different’, because as a spectator, you want to see the best players in the world representing their countries. I think you’ve got to work with them and that’s something, which we’ll be challenged with.”

SPO Brendon McCullum REUTERS-1681488077885
England Test coach Brendon McCullum feels lucky that the increase in money for England players will deter them in taking long-term contracts from Twenty20 teams. Image Credit: Reuters

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has warned of the potentially cataclysmic impact of the rising power of overseas franchises, while the appeal of Test cricket declines.

With the ECB expected to overhaul its central contracts system — introducing multi-year deals and significantly increasing match fees in an effort to retain the loyalty of leading players — it also draws attention to the “pressure on player wage inflation in a highly competitive market” as a potential threat.

Different leagues

The owners of several IPL teams are known to want to tie players to 12-month contracts and it was recently reported that several English cricketers had been approached to see if they would, in principle, be willing to accept such a deal. Venky Mysore, the chief executive of the Kolkata Knight Riders, said last year: “If we were able to have ‘X’ number of contracted players, and were able to use them all in different leagues, I think that would be nirvana. Hopefully, someday it will happen.”

The ECB’s spending on salaries has massively increased in recent years — more than doubling from £25.8 million in 2018-19 to £57.4 million in 2022-23 — and the need to increase payments to top players is sure to push that figure further upwards.

McCullum also feels that England are lucky in offering their players more money to play international cricket compared to other ICC nations, thereby stopping them from pursuing T20 franchise cricket deals.

Extra yards

“The thing from our point of view is how do we ensure that when that decision comes, they’re thinking about how great of a time they have representing the England Test side.

“How much fun they’ve had, how much those experiences which they’ve been able to get in an England shirt is so great that they are prepared to continue to put their yards and even though it might not be as financially viable as some of the other leagues.

“But I think we (England) are a little bit lucky too because the amount of money that we can pay players is better than some of the other (cricket) boards around the world. But it is a shift, it’s definitely a shifting landscape and you’ve just got to be fluid.”