The England players could be the next to feel the impact of £100m losses this summer after the England & Wales Cricket Board announced a round of “unthinkable” redundancies.
The international season climaxes on Wednesday at Old Trafford with the decider between England and Australia bringing to an end what has been an absorbing summer of cricket despite the restrictions of playing all matches behind closed doors.
But the reality of huge losses incurred by the game hit home on Tuesday when Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, announced 62 jobs will go at the board. He also warned that losses could double to £200m if next summer is also played in similar circumstances.
There are 16 players on central contracts which were negotiated with the board two years ago. Players are employed on an annual basis but the terms and conditions run parallel with the ECB’s broadcast rights deal for 2020-2024. Multi-format players earn a minimum of £925,000, Test players £650,000 and one-day cricketers £275,000 with appearance fees and win bonuses added on top.
Contracts in the Hundred tournament have been cut by 20 percent and players will be worried the board will now look to make savings within the England set up when the next round of deals are decided at the end of the month. The England coaching staff are employees of the ECB but it is understood that none have been told their jobs are at risk.
Earlier this summer the players donated £500,000 to the ECB and various cricket charities but have been on full pay since the international season started.
Investment in the England team appears to be continuing with plans to hold a two week training camp in Dubai at the end of November. There is also the possibility the ECB will help Cricket South Africa pay some of the costs of a proposed England white ball tour around the same time, although that will only happen in extreme circumstances.
Chris Woakes is a dual format cricketer for England so on the highest bracket of payments and he accepted on Tuesday that the players could face pay cuts.
"Of course it is a sad time to see people lose jobs after some seriously hard work but obviously we're going to have to lose certain roles. Yes, that does resonate with the players and we obviously feel that impact," he said.
"Since the pandemic struck there was obviously that donation made by players at the beginning of the summer, that hasn't really been discussed since. We haven't really been spoken to by the ECB or the hierarchy but, in the current climate and with contracts round the corner, I think you just have to expect anything at the minute.
"It is a situation where we need to sit down as players and see what happens with regard to these contracts coming up, we'll know more in the next few weeks and we'll reassess at that point.
"At this moment in time it is hard for me to say we're going to take 'X cuts' and there will be donations left, right and centre. Until we see what happens from above, we'll then get more of a feel for it, but I certainly wouldn't rule that out.
"As players you're not going to sit here and say 'we're exempt from it', you just have to wait and see what the hierarchy have got planned."
Ian Watmore, the new chairman of the ECB, wrote in his blog last week that the game is facing a “financial day of reckoning” after a blank summer of ticket receipts, hospitality income and the postponement of the Hundred.
Producing biosecure bubbles has also cost many millions but was seen as an investment because it avoided defaulting on broadcast deals.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has left cricket facing its most significant challenge of the modern era,” said Harrison. "It is now an irrefutable fact that the impact of this pandemic is significant and will be long-lasting. There is also deep uncertainty about the future, and it is vital we take more steps now to ensure the future financial sustainability of cricket in England and Wales. Seven months ago, sharing a message of this nature was unthinkable.”