Former England captain, Andrew Flintoff, has rejected the ECB’s offer of an incremental contract so that he can play for different Twenty20 teams around the world.
The move, according to the Professional Cricketers Association, could well be echoed by many other players unless governing bodies reduce the current fixture pileup within the international cricket schedule.
There is substantial money available to top-class cricketers with the new shortened format of the game taking off, particularly in India and South Africa. Twenty20 provides good revenue from both TV and gate receipts, as well as additional sponsorship opportunities for the players. English players are able to compete during the winter, without causing any conflict with their club sides.
Sean Morris of the PCA said it was “only natural” that players would look to maximise their income, even though this might mean players have to reject national contract offers in order to leave themselves open to play in overseas club competitions.
Flintoff told how he rejected the England contract because “playing in different countries will help (him to) become the best one-day cricketer in the world.” If this is the case, then he will surely be an asset for his national side.
However, former England captains Nasser Hussain and Mike Atherton dismissed this notion: both have referred to Flintoff’s move as a “financial decision”, with Atherton claiming in a TV interview that a conflict may arise between England and a future club of Flintoff’s, at which point England, in his opinion, should refuse to select Flintoff again.
Many are now referring to Flintoff as “freelance” as a result of his decision, and it is believed that current England captain, Andrew Strauss, would like to meet with the player in person to discuss what this refusal to sign with the ECB means for his international future.
Whatever the rationale for his failure to sign the ECB contract, few can argue with the contribution Andrew Flintoff has made to England cricket to date: having won two home Ashes series with the test side, contributing 3394 ODI runs, 3845 Test Match runs and taking more than 380 wickets for his country in both codes.