LONDON: England’s centrally contracted male cricketers will donate £500,000 ($613,000) to the Board and charities while their women’s team counterparts have volunteered a three-month pay cut amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the players’ association (PCA) said.
Friday’s statement issued by the Professional Cricketers’ Association, the players’ union, came just days after the England and Wales Cricket Board said chief executive Tom Harrison had volunteered to take a 25 percent pay cut.
Tuesday saw Harrison unveil the ECB’s £61 million ($76 million) aid package in response to the spread of Covid-19 which has seen the start of the English season delayed until May 28 and placed question marks over the future of lucrative incoming tours by the West Indies, Pakistan and Australia.
But with the ECB placing some administrative staff on the British government’s reduced pay job retention furlough scheme, questions were raised over whether the likes of Test captain Joe Root and star all-rounder Ben Stokes, who earns close to a £1 million a year from the ECB as a star performer in red and white ball cricket, should accept a salary reduction as well.
“Following a meeting on Friday of all of the England men’s centrally contracted cricketers, the players have agreed to make an initial donation of 0.5million to the ECB and to selected good causes,” said a statement issued by the PCA on behalf of England’s Player Partnership group. “The precise details of the charitable donation will be decided over the next week by the players.”
The statement added the contribution was the “equivalent of all of the England centrally contracted players taking a 20 percent reduction in their monthly retainers for the next three months”.
That 20 percent figure is significant because although Harrison, who has warned a season without any cricket at all could cost the ECB a whopping £300 million, said there were no plans to enforce a pay cut on players, a letter from him to PCA chief executive Tony Irish, leaked to the ESPNCricinfo website, showed him asking the players to accept a 20 percent cut.
“The players will continue to discuss with the ECB the challenging situation faced by the game and society as a whole and will consider how best to support the ECB and both the cricketing and wider community going forward,” Friday’s statement added.
World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan, asked on Wednesday if he would accept a pay cut, said: “I’m extremely willing to help where I know it will make a difference [...]I’m open to absolutely everything.”
Wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler is currently auctioning the shirt he wore in England’s 2019 World Cup final victory to raise funds for efforts to fight the coronavirus.
Meanwhile England women’s centrally contracted players, who earn considerably less than their male counterparts, announced on Friday they had volunteered a salary reduction for the next three months (April, May and June) in line with their coaches and support staff.
England women’s captain Heather Knight said: “All the players felt like it was the right response in the current climate to take a pay cut in line with what our support staff are taking.
“We know how the current situation is affecting the game and we want to help as much as we can.
“We will be discussing with the ECB further ways we can help the game in the coming weeks,” added Knight, who has signed up with the National Health Service (NHS) as a volunteer.
Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2020