Thursday, 18 April 2013

Who Wouldn't Want A Chance To Shine?

Following on from the announcement of the NZ "central contracts", it has emerged that at least two of the NZ team were offered these contracts but turned them down.

People have been quick to ask why; but I think the answer is pretty obvious: it's a tough gig, for not-a-lot of money.

I don't have any details on the Ts&Cs offered to the NZ girls, but I do know a little bit about the English equivalent: Chance To Shine.

Chance To Shine is the charity(1) which employs several of the leading England players, including captain Lottie Edwards. Their role requires them to deliver coaching sessions at schools and clubs all around the country; and in return they get the flexibility to train as semi-professional sportsmen.

So there's the first rub, right there: the role involves constant travel, living out of hotels, away from friends, family and loved-ones.

Of course, England's men do this all the time; but here's the difference: the men are earning in the order of hundreds of thousands of pounds per year.

I don't know exactly what Lottie & Co. earn; but the Cricket Foundation's accounts are a matter of public record. The charity employs 22 people, only two of whom earn in excess of the reporting threshold of £60k (probably the Chief Exec and the Ops Director); and a back-of-the-envelope calculation(2) suggests an average salary for everyone else of around £36k - not peanuts, by any means; and it offers the girls a chance to "live and breathe" cricket in a way which they couldn't if they had a "proper" job.

But a king's ransom, it ain't; and you can see why some would say 'thanks, but no thanks'.

(1) Actually... technically... the charity is called The Cricket Foundation, and it runs a program called Chance To Shine.
(2) Pre-NI salaries of about £800k, divided by 20 remaining employees

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

NZ Girls Get THEIR Chance To Shine... But These Are NOT Central Contracts

Cricinfo reports that four New Zealand players, including captain Suzie Bates, have been awarded "central contracts" by their board.

This is obviously fantastic news for the girls involved... but... let's not get carried away here - these are not "central contracts" in the sense that they are awarded to the likes of Ali Cook and Brendon McCullum in the men's game.

The NZ girls are expected to "work closely with a major association to help promote grassroots women's cricket, increasing awareness and interest in the game at various school and club levels."

In this sense, these contracts sound very-much like the 'Chance To Shine' initiative in England.

While technically Chance To Shine is an independent charity, promoting sport in state schools and deprived areas; in practice it acts as a vehicle for employing several of the leading England women in a cricket-related context.

The England players employed by Chance To Shine (including Lottie Edwards) are clearly better-off than they would be without the scheme - they have a full-time cricket-related job, with an employer who is naturally sympathetic to the demands of playing and touring with England.

But let's not kid ourselves that these are really "central contracts" in they way in which they are generally understood within the game of cricket.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Lottie's Line In The Sand

England captain Lottie Edwards, speaking to the Daily Mail, has drawn a clear line in the sand - slapping down the ambitions of certain members of her squad to play men's cricket.

Arguing that men's and women's cricket are "slightly different games" she tells her girls that she wants them "training for women's cricket." (My emphasis.)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the interview is that Lottie makes no attempt to hide the fact that her comments are clearly aimed at one person in particular: Sarah Taylor.

Of course, as I have said before, this is probably all academic for the time being. Sarah Taylor isn't going to play First Class cricket this year, any more than I am! (Unless it is as some kind of one-off promotional gimmick, or Sussex suffer a ridiculous number of injuries.)

But nonetheless, it is good to hear someone sticking-up for the women's game. I want to see the top women playing women's cricket; not acting as token extras in the men's game. Lottie clearly does too.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

England vs. Pakistan: Warm-Ups In All But Name

In addition to the Ashes series this summer, England have announced four matches against Pakistan at the beginning of June.

Although Pakistan are a 'proper' (fully centrally contracted) team, they are comfortably the lowest-ranked side of the eight primary women's nations.

All four games are scheduled on work-days in the space of one week - one at tiny Louth CC in Linconshire; and the others over at the national performance center at Loughborough University.

The opponents, venues and scheduling, all suggest that these are primarily warm-ups for the bigger tests (but sadly not Tests - there is only one long-form game) to come; and although England's men have recently been criticized for under-estimating NZ, it would be a major upset if England came out of this with anything less than a whitewash. (Or possibly an entirely rain-affected nil-nil draw!)

England vs. Pakistan
1 June - ODI @ Louth CC
3 June - ODI @ Loughborough University
5 June - 2x T20 @ Loughborough University

(No links for tickets - my guess (going on what happened at the smaller venues last year) is that these will be "cash-on-the-door" jobs.)