England WILL take a full-strength squad to the Ashes after crunch ECB meeting ratified tour following months of doubt over Covid conditions players and their families must abide by
- England have taken their time in committing to the Ashes series in Australia
- There have been fears about the Covid protocols and rules for families joining
- But after a crunch ECB meeting the path is now clear for England to tour
- Senior players are happy with assurances over Covid rules given by hosts
England will take a full-strength squad to the Ashes – including Jos Buttler – after senior players finally committed to next month’s trip.
Barring any last-minute changes of heart, it means Joe Root will be able to call upon all his fit players for the 11-week trip.
An ECB board meeting was held at Lord’s to ratify the five-match series following months of doubt over availability due to uncertainty over the Covid conditions in which the players and their families would be asked to abide in Australia.
Jos Buttler is among the senior stars to have committed to the Ashes tour next month
England’s current Test vice-captain Buttler made clear that he would not embark on the tour without his wife Louise and two young daughters Georgia and Margot, who was born last month, but after several meetings with Cricket Australia this week it appears that those in line for selection are happy with the quarantine regulations and bubble restrictions they will face down under. Chris Woakes, Mark Wood and Rory Burns also have small children.
A squad will be selected this weekend and could be named as early as Sunday – although Root’s men will attempt to become only the second England team to win an away Ashes series in 35 years without injured quartet Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Sam Curran and Olly Stone plus Moeen Ali, who retired from Test cricket earlier this month.
The news follows the announcement that England’s central contracts system has moved to a new structure for 2021-22 and beyond.
Joe Root will have a full strength squad to help him try to win back the Ashes in Australia
In all, 20 players received the new-look annual deals which run from October 1 and as revealed by Sportsmail last month are no longer split between Test and white-ball cricket.
Sussex seamer Ollie Robinson, Yorkshire’s Dawid Malan and Somerset’s slow left-armer Jack Leach were all first-time recipients, Lancashire all-rounder Liam Livingstone’s performances have been recognised as one of four to be handed increment contracts while Craig Overton, Saqib Mahmood and Stone all remain on ECB pace bowling contracts.
Multi-format players can earn up to £850,000-per-year as a basic salary and break the million-pound barrier if England are successful – with match fees and win bonuses remaining at the same level as 2020-21.
However, individuals at the other end of the spectrum are most likely to benefit under the revamped framework.
Ollie Robinson is one of the first-time recipients of new-look annual deals with England
All 20 players receive differing amounts from £220,000 upwards on a ranking system that rewards both seniority and achievement – but also now factors in an algorithm which combines matches played across all formats over the previous 12 months with a projection of how many they are expected to feature in over the following year.
In monetary breakdown, Test cricket carries 60% of the weight, with 20% given to both one-day and Twenty20 internationals.
The new system – developed in conjunction with the Professional Cricketers’ Association and the Team England Player Partnership – avoids some of the issues which arose last year: for example, Wood did not receive a central contract last October but was then picked for England’s next two Tests while Jofra Archer did but was rested. Such occurrences will be reflected in this year’s pay.
Ashley Giles believes the new contracts are a natural evolution given the changing landscape
Ashley Giles, England’s director of cricket, said the framework is ‘the fairest and most transparent way of rewarding players across all formats.’
Giles added: ‘Since the inception of central contracts in 2002, the system has facilitated improved preparation, performance and professionalism of the England team and has ensured that players are well rewarded for representing their country at the elite level.
‘The international game continues to evolve, and we have to be mindful that we have to lead the way in player performance across cricket’s ever-changing landscape. Our objective remains the same to develop world-class players in all three formats as we strive to become the most respected team in the world.’
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