Central Contract Inconsistencies

Central contract have been awarded for the period of October 1 2009 to September 30 2010 to James Anderson, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Graham Onions, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Ryan Sidebottom, Andrew Strauss and Graeme Swann.

Increment contracts have been awarded to Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Andrew Flintoff, Adil Rashid, Owais Shah, Jonathan Trott and Luke Wright.

Looking at the eleven centrally contracted players might give the more cynical of us a rough idea – except maybe for Trott – of what the test team might be against South Africa later this year.

In describing the award of contracts to Graham Onions, Matt Prior and Graeme Swann, National selector Geoff Miller said “Central contracts are designed to reward players who perform well consistently for England and all three have made a very significant contribution to the team’s recent success in regaining the Ashes and beating West Indies at home in both Test and one-day series“.

The line “Central contracts are designed to reward players who perform well consistently for England” does not justify the reward of contracts to players who perform inconsistent or consistently bad for England.

Consistent is not a word I would use to describe the contracts awarded to Cook, Bell, Collingwood, Bopara, Trott and Sidebottom. Is the basis of being awarded a contract based on how many forms of cricket you play for England or consistency of performance as Geoff Miller says? Either way it dosen’t add up properly.

Fair enough Monty Panesar and Steve Harmison haven’t done enough to justify a new contract. Harmison might argue that he has gone back to Durham and done all that he could but I feel he is been punished for turning up unfit in India last year, after been warned about the same thing previously on the tour of New Zealand – a fair point.

For Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood and Ryan Sidebottom though, how can anyone say that they have peformed consistently well for England? Of Paul Collingwood, he might justify a full central contract on the basis that he plays all three forms of cricket – but this isn’t the criteria to gain a full central contract? Or is it?

The other seven players awarded central contracts all play at least two forms of the game, but at the moment Bell and Cook are only playing test cricket and Sidebottom just limited overs cricket.

Of the increment contracts players Ravi Bopara is playing one day cricket but will probably make the test squad to tour South Africa and Jonathon Trott, test cricket but will probably make the one day side for the South Africa tour. To award different contracts to these two from those awarded to Cook, Bell, Collingwood and Sidebottom to me is inconsistent from the selectors.

It would appear that the contracts are awarded on the basis of who the selectors like the look off – an ‘if the face fits’ selection policy – and not by who has performed well consistently for England, why make these statements when everyone who watches England knows they are not true.

For me only Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, James Anderson, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and Graham Onions should have been awarded central contract as they are the only remotely consistent players of the last 8-12 months. The bowlers more so need the contracts as they need to be managed more closely.

On another note I have noticed also that one of the increment contract players who shall remain nameless but plays for Yorkshire and is not a leg spinner looks to have a similar build to Nottinghamshire’s Samit Patel. I also notice that he hasn’t been thrown out of the squad and told to lose weight in the ruthless way Patel was. Another face that fits perhaps.