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Ben Stokes recognises he must be sympathetic as England Test captain towards anyone looking to optimise their earning potential at the expense of international duty.
Mark Wood, whose express pace had a transformative impact in this summer’s drawn Ashes series, has cast doubt on committing to another central contract as he weighs up cashing in on the T20 franchise market.
Wood has signed up to the International League T20 in the United Arab Emirates, which begins on January 13, and could miss the first three Tests of a five-match series in India that starts 12 days later.
The 33-year-old quick told the Daily Telegraph featuring in both is “not a viable option for England”, adding there are “more things in play than just solely my love of playing” international cricket.
The earning potential of lucrative T20 leagues mean players can earn vast sums that match or outstrip what they earn for their country, for just a few weeks’ work as opposed to the grind of touring.
England are attempting to offset the club versus country row by offering multi-year contracts – giving them greater control over their players, who in turn have extra security – to stave off T20 franchises.
There are more things in play than just solely my love of playing for England
Stokes, Wood’s Durham team-mate, understands how he and everyone else must adapt to the changing terrain and would not begrudge anyone trying to safeguard their financial future above all else.
“Everyone’s at a different point in their life, not just in their career, where other things have to be thought about by the individual,” Stokes said.
“If a person makes a decision because they think it’s not only best for themselves but also the future and security of their family then it’s very hard to disagree with that.
“We’ve got to understand, and I’ve got to understand as a captain, that there might be some decisions players make and I’m very comfortable and aware that something like that might happen.
If a person makes a decision because they think it’s not only best for themselves but also the future and security of their family then it’s very hard to disagree with that
“It’s up to the individual. I think having a good and clear understanding that the landscape of cricket is changing in front of our eyes very quickly makes things like this a bit more easy to understand.”
England have seen Jason Roy relinquish his incremental deal to pursue an avenue in the inaugural Major League Cricket this summer but the opener is in their preliminary squad for the World Cup.
Stokes is also in the group after reversing his ODI retirement in time for the defence of their 50-over crown and is set for his first match in the format against New Zealand in Cardiff on Friday.
He added: “We know now that the whole landscape of cricket is changing. That is great for the individuals who are still within the game but also the guys who are coming through.
“The opportunities that are presented now for cricketers are amazing and it’s great for the sport. The more opportunities that come, the more people will be attracted to the sport and trying to make a career out of it.”
Mike Atherton, one of Stokes’ predecessors as England Test captain, wrote in the Times on Thursday that “the five-day game and bilateral international cricket is withering in front of our eyes”.
Stokes, whose side captured the public’s imagination if not the urn during the Ashes, rejected that assertion and insisted they can carry on the momentum built from this summer.
“Me and (head coach) Brendon (McCullum) are very clear and obvious on what we want to achieve as leaders of the team at the moment,” Stokes added.
“We’ll keep continuing to drive that mentality and the reason behind everything we do on the field for the next generation of people coming through.”
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