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Cricket’s ‘transfer window’ opens on June 1 and it can be a disruptive time

Cricket’s ‘transfer window’ opens on June 1 and it can be a disruptive time


You won’t see it on the fixture list, but next Thursday is an important date in the county crickets calendar: June 1 represents the opening of the domestic transfer window, meaning players in the final years of their contracts will be allowed to talk to rivals counties.

How disruptive this is for the free agents involved and the 18 first-class counties varies on a case-by-case basis, but from next week dozens of cricketers will play for one club while negotiating with others for 2024 and beyond.

This also happens to be an uncertain time for player contracts in general as there is talk of allowing six-month deals for white-ball specialists plying their trade in overseas franchise leagues over the winter in addition to the current standard 12-month contracts , and whether it’s worth having a deadline at all for multi-format cricketers entering their final seasons.

As one cricket district director put it, if you’re in the last year of your contract you should be allowed to speak to whoever, at any time because if you didn’t get a contract last October there’s clearly a question mark of either the province or the player and as of June 1 not too much will have changed.

Such a policy arguably clears the smoke and reflects the nature of what can be a stressful process.

Dominic Sibley returned to Surrey from Warwickshire and has gone from strength to strength

Dominic Sibley returned to Surrey from Warwickshire and has gone from strength to strength

Is it a troubled time? One hundred percent, and for several reasons. Whether or not their current clubs will come to them with an offer before the end of May certainly plays a role in players’ minds. Counties tend to communicate with the best players before the window opens, but if they don’t get an offer, it suggests they “I don’t have great prospects either at that club or in the game,” says Phil Weston, a of 43 England and Wales agents registered with the Cricket Board.

Weston has 28 players in such circumstances, including England leg spinner Matt Parkinson, his twin brother Callum Parkinson, Gloucestershire left armer David Payne, Leicestershire Twenty20 captain Colin Ackermann and up and coming Worcestershire stars Jack Haynes and Josh Tongue.

There are many factors that go into moving, although given that the salary scale in the county scenes ranges from 27,500 to 150,000 a year, it rarely comes down to purely money.

I don’t think I’ve ever moved a player where the financial aspect was the leading factor. Of course the size of a bid matters, but it’s almost always for cricketing reasons, and with the best of intentions, you try to make sure players are in the best environment to fulfill their ambitions, and that never changes whether it’s for someone with a chance to stay put, or someone with multiple places to go, Weston continues.

It is always about the criteria that are important to him in order to achieve his goals. With bowlers, this could be the level of support in the back room, the medical team, or the coaching. With batters, it can be the surfaces or the practice surfaces. All those things come into play.

“There are also different levels of players and I always have a few who probably wouldn’t want to move but might not be offered a contract by their own club. That represents a completely different power dynamic, in which a player doesn’t have as much choice.

Jason Ratcliffe, who like fellow Agent Weston has experience moving counties as a player plus a decade as an assistant director at the Professional Cricketers Association to fall back on, agrees: people move for aspiration, whether that the potential is to win trophies, to play in another division, for England or in franchise cricket. Money is clearly an important factor, but almost always the last piece of the puzzle.

I help form opinions but it’s a player who has to make the decision and only when I feel someone is on the wrong path can I say I disagree and put my own thoughts forward to take.

There can be a lot of emotion in county cricket. Provinces don’t want to see their best young players leave, but sometimes they don’t realize what the player is thinking, and loyalty is a two-way street. At other times, a county may do everything possible to help a young cricketer and that cricketer may still feel that his interests lie elsewhere.

Never was this last point more appropriate than when Dominic Sibley left Surrey for Warwickshire in August 2017, a move that so enraged the London club that an official called Ratcliffe and angrily accused him of ruining the player’s career.

But when Sibley rejoined his boyhood club last winter after five and a half years away, it had really only gotten stronger: a first-class average of 29, usually batting out of five, turned into his favored position of opener at Edgbaston . , where he hit 12 hundreds and averaged 44, numbers leading to 22 Test caps.

Although he has been out of the England team for two years, I have no doubt that Dom will be back. Firstly because of the good player he is and everything he has achieved. Second, because he’s only 28, says Ratcliffe.

Joey Evison has performed exceptionally for Kent since taking a gamble

Joey Evison has performed exceptionally for Kent since taking a gamble

Likewise, a move to the Kia Oval changed Jamie Overton’s career. Going nowhere, Overton batted at number 10 or 11 and bowled third or fourth substitution for Somerset. But since then he has hit a whopping seven in Championship cricket for Surrey, hitting 97 in his first Test innings and reaching the top 10 boundary hitters in Twenty20.

It takes real courage on one’s part to move from what might be a comfortable environment to another in an effort to start proving yourself, continues Ratcliffe.

What moving provinces show is a real level of intent, not just settling for what you’ve got.

A player strategy for the future career is important. Take Danny Briggs as an example. He had 270 first-class wickets but Sussex would not pick him for a red ball and eventually offered him a white ball contract. He moved to Warwickshire, within a few years he is their MVP and they win the County Championship.

Last summer Joey Evison, another Ratcliffe client, was offered a three-year contract by Nottinghamshire, who did not see the all-rounder as a top-six option. He disagreed, seized his chance with a move to Kent, led off at bat, got a hundred in his second appearance and then was player of the match last September as the club won the Royal London Cup.

This was a win-win: Nottinghamshire preferred Lyndon James and Matthew Montgomery, and although they prospered, Evison did the same after moving permanently to Canterbury.

Ed Barnard, who offered similar deals at Worcestershire and Warwickshire last summer, at the age of 28 considered it now or never to progress at a top club vying for silverware and opted for Edgbaston.

And sometimes player and club both decide that a split is best for both parties. Tom Alsop and Hampshire agreed that he could not find his place in the Ageas Bowl, so he was loaned out to Sussex in 2022.

Things went so well – he hit five first-class hundreds in 31 innings and topped their Twenty20 series last summer – that the two-year permanent deal he signed was recently extended to three, coinciding with the award of a county cap and promise of captaincy ahead.




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