Melbourne, Dec. 23 (ANI): About two-thirds of players (67 per cent) said they could envisage an Australian player rejecting a CA contract to ply their trade in leagues such as the IPL in the short to medium term.
Asked if they would consider knocking back a CA contract to turn freelance, 22 per cent of national players and 18 per cent of state players answered yes.
Australia has been given a sobering challenge of trying to keep its best cricketers in the baggy green, with one in five of the nation's star players revealing they would consider knocking back a Cricket Australia contract to pursue a freelance career.
The alarming statistic, contained in a new survey of the country's state and international players, suggests Australia will not be immune from the trend started by star England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, despite the Australians' status as the best-paid cricketers in the world.
The Australian Cricketers' Association conducted the annual poll and, although the players still regard the prestige of the baggy green as the most influential factor in making such a decision, their responses reflect the changing priorities of elite cricketers in the Twenty20 age.
Flintoff retired from Test cricket this year and then rejected a contract from the English and Wales Cricket Board worth 30,000 pounds to maximise his earning power with the Chennai Super Kings, reducing the strain on his body and freeing up his time for other leagues.
Although he still wants to play limited-overs cricket for England, the national board no longer has first call on his services.
Australia's Andrew Symonds is also enjoying the freedom of a freelance career, but only because his contract was torn up by Cricket Australia after series of behavioural breaches.
"I think Andrew Flintoff's decision is a sign of the times and is reflective of what a number of players around the world are currently thinking," ACA chief executive Paul Marsh said.
"The reality is that the national boards no longer have a monopoly over the players' services," he added.
"There are new, exciting and lucrative options available to players, and not surprisingly many are giving serious consideration to their futures. Our players are well paid, but a competition such as the IPL in many cases provides a package of more money for less work and therefore less time away from home. Tell me that's not a proposition any person would consider," Marsh said.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said he was not surprised modern players were considering their options, and claimed more talented young athletes would choose cricket over the football codes as a result. He also insisted Australia was well-placed to keep the best players signed up to national contracts.
"There is no doubt the labour market has changed in that there are broader options now than there were before," Sutherland said.
The survey renews concerns about the future of 50-over cricket, with players again pledging their love for the traditions of Tests but nominating one-dayers as the form they enjoy playing the least.
The volume of cricket emerged among players as the most urgent issue facing the game. Of the two-thirds who said they would consider retirement from one format in order to extend their career in another, 75 per cent said they would be most likely to retire from ODIs. (ANI)