Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Contract list is just not cricket

Doug Bracewell. Photo / Getty Images
Doug Bracewell. Photo / Getty Images

Question: What do Neil Broom, Daniel Flynn, Andy McKay, Luke Woodcock and Reece Young have in common?

Answer: They all have national cricket contracts with salaries of $72,000 or more but are not playing at international level.

That highlights a bigger personnel issue for New Zealand Cricket. Why do the contract lists and actual New Zealand playing XIs differ so markedly?

National coach John Wright and former selection manager Mark Greatbatch released their list of 20 contracted players in July based on an individual's value to each format of the game - with double weighting given to test match potential compared to perceived value in one-dayers and T20s. The numbers are added up and a list is formed.

Yet it is hard to understand the basis for such rankings when looking at who has played since July, or who will play in the series against Zimbabwe.

Eight of the players picked for limited overs matches against Zimbabwe - Michael Bates, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, James Franklin, Colin de Grandhomme, Andrew Ellis, Tom Latham and Tarun Nethula - have domestic rather than national contracts.

That means, before earning international match payments, their maximum base salary is $37,500 for a six-month retainer from October to March. Auckland Twenty20 spinner Roneel Hira is a further exception. He is outside the 92 contracted players in the country so gets nothing but match fees, yet his HRV Cup form was worthy of international selection.

Certainly the odd exception is to be expected to the 20 contracted player rule. Some players like Bracewell and Brownlie demanded selection with performances after the contracts were released - but to have them making important test contributions without earning at least a $72,000 base contract seems inequitable.

The likes of Broom and Flynn (touted as possible test No 6s at one stage) are paid at least that base retainer but have not featured internationally this season. To be fair, Flynn has been injured but will still struggle to be selected this summer. It is not Broom's fault either.

He did not pick himself as part of the 20 and his chances of playing international cricket this season looked promising when he was nestled behind Brownlie and B-J Watling on the averages table at the July/August emerging players' tournament in Queensland. His performances included a knock of 197 off 187 balls against the Australian Institute of Sport but his form has since slipped for Otago.

Ways of fixing the glitch might include reassessing the NZC contracts on a six-month rather than annual basis. Otherwise the concept of "elevated contracts" which were awarded to James Franklin and Hamish Bennett last February might be reinstituted (they were axed this season due to budgetary cuts).

Or the weighting could be adjusted to better acknowledge the efforts of limited overs players, but purists will argue those players are more than compensated by regular match fees - and that bigger incentives need to be placed on aspiring to play tests.

It is hard to establish exactly what players earn under the rankings system but the top earner (believed to be captain Ross Taylor) makes $177,000. That decreases to base retainers of $72,000 for numbers 18-20 in the players' contractual agreement with New Zealand Cricket. Players then receive match fees of $7508 for a test, $3254 for one-day internationals and $2127 for twenty20 matches.

Major association contracts (12 for each team) see the top earner make a $37,500 retainer from October to March. Match fees are $1495 per first-class fixture, $720 per one-dayer and $470 per T20.

Based on matches played since July - and on the assumption Broom is ranked in the 18-20 bracket and Bracewell is Central Districts' top-ranked player - Broom's approximate income is $56,500 while Bracewell's would be around $66,500 (excluding possible endorsement, sponsorship and per diem payments). It raises questions about how players are valued.

Factbox

* National contracts but only playing domestically: Neil Broom, Daniel Flynn, Andy McKay, Luke Woodcock, Reece Young

* National contracts but injured: Hamish Bennett, Jesse Ryder

* Playing internationally but only a domestic contract: Michael Bates, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, James Franklin, Colin de Grandhomme, Andrew Ellis, Tom Latham, Tarun Nethula

* No contract: Roneel Hira

- Herald on Sunday

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