Eoin Morgan believes England players are open to tackling cricket’s coronavirus crisis “in whatever way possible” but has held off from committing publicly to wage cuts until more is known about the damage to the upcoming season.
The England and Wales Cricket Board wrote to the Professional Cricketers’ Association on Sunday to suggest a temporary player salary reduction of 20% across the sport. The union, however, is first waiting on financial proposals from the 18 first-class counties this week before making any hard decisions.
Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, has stated that a pay cut will not be sought from England’s centrally contracted players – legally it appears this cannot be enforced – but it is clear the governing body is hoping for a voluntary reduction emerging from the dressing room.
Harrison has himself taken a 25% cut to his own £719,000 salary, 24 hours after unveiling a £61m short-term rescue package for the sport, while ECB staff are either subject to two-month reductions ranging to 10 to 20% or have been furloughed under the government’s job retention scheme.
With a number of counties doing the same, England’s international players run the risk of appearing out of touch with the general mood. But Morgan insists it is simply a case of wanting to establish how much of the summer’s revenue-driving cricket will be lost to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“We are open to helping in whatever way possible,” said Morgan, England’s World Cup-winning white-ball captain, via a conference call on Wednesday morning. “We want to hopefully make an impact.
“I’m extremely willing to help where I know it will make a difference. No one seems to have any answers on the actual impact it will have on international cricket, English cricket, county cricket [but] I’m open to absolutely everything. I’m aware of how serious the situation is and aware how everyone will be affected from top to toe within the game and every sport.”
As things stand no county matches will be staged before 28 May but the three-Test series against West Indies that starts on 4 June already looks in jeopardy, along with the tours from Australia, Pakistan and Ireland that follow.
The Guardian has spoken to other England players who insist they too are not blind to the situation faced by the sport – or the country as a whole – and are open, in principle, to taking a cut or deferral for the greater good. But as well as wanting to know more about how this money would directly benefit others, the players are mindful of needing to establish the actual mechanics of any pay cut in an equitable way, given their incomes vary by format and are a combination of retainer, salary, match fees and bonuses.
There are currently 16 centrally contracted England men, six of whom hold deals for both red and white ball cricket. Each earns a retainer of around £75,000 and then a salary on top of this depending on format, with Test cricketers earning between £300k and £500k and one-day players between £200k and £300k.
A single Test appearance earns a player £14,000 and a white-ball game is worth up to £5,000. It means a Test cricketer, for example, stands to lose £84,000 in match fees – on top of any possible salary reduction – should all six matches against West Indies and Pakistan this summer be cancelled.
While central contracts are negotiated through the England Player Partnership, there is also a reluctance among the England players to make a public move until the PCA has established terms for the 450-strong county workforce.
While reluctant to discuss money matters in detail, Morgan was open to the notion of both England’s Test and white-ball teams playing concurrently should this be needed to deal with a fixture pile-up at the end of a truncated season. The 33-year-old, who became a father three weeks ago, was also happy to commit to the idea of playing international cricket behind closed doors in what Harrison labelled “bio-safe” conditions.
Asked about the loss of atmosphere with no crowd, Morgan replied: “I’ve played county cricket for a long time and Test cricket in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and that’s the exact same. But from a very serious point of view, if medical experts advised us it was OK to play behind closed doors and it was on TV, I think that would be a huge step forward for the game.”