Cricket’s crossroads: White-ball only contracts

Although big name players are choosing T20 over the County Championship, it can still attract good crowds

Cricket is at a critical point in its history. Declining County Championship attendances and rising Twenty20 attendances have led to lucrative T20 deals being available to play in tournaments like the IPL and Big Bash.

As a result, two of England’s stars Adil Rashid and Alex Hales have signed white-ball only contracts with their counties and will not play in the County Championship.

The County Championship’s average attendances were dwarfed by the T20 Blast, with the shorter format’s rise in popularity one of the reasons for the introduction of white-ball only contracts

Former England spinner Shaun Udal believes the decision is “disappointing” saying that “they are basically saying that they don’t want to play Test cricket which is wrong when they are still young. I can sadly see more people doing it though”.

Sussex head coach Jason Gillespie who worked with Rashid for 5 years while at Yorkshire, says that he backs his former charge’s decision.

Gillespie also thinks the popularity of Twenty20 means many future cricketers will decide to spend their entire careers only playing that format.

“I certainly think that there are kids coming through that are not going to be interested in playing the longest form of the game. I think that’s inevitable.”

Gillespie believes that the big pay checks that can be earned at T20 competitions such as the Big Bash (above) will mean future cricketers may only ever play T20 cricket

David Hopps, the General Editor at ESPN Cricinfo, believes white-ball only contracts could be the future, saying that “I think more and more big-name players will follow Hales and Rashid and just play white ball cricket.”

However, he thinks it is a decision that has been forced on them “by the way the game is going”, believing that “it’s the circumstances in which a professional cricketer operates in these days. People need to look at the way international and professional cricket is structured.”

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