Ben Stokes’ England future in limbo as he REJECTS first-ever multi-year contract with rising star given longest deal
BEN STOKES has turned down a long-term England contract as he tries to maximise his earnings for the rest of his career.
Stokes was offered a three-year deal but has instead signed for just one year.
But fast bowler Mark Wood, aged 33 and with a history of injuries, happily signed a three-year deal alongside batters Joe Root and Harry Brook.
Test captain Stokes’ decision means at this stage he is not under contract for the next Ashes series in Australia in 2025-26.
The ECB have brought in multi-year deals for the first time in an attempt to stop losing players to Twenty20 franchises.
Stokes is keeping his options open in the rapidly-changing cricket landscape.
IPL teams are buying into T20 leagues around the world and will soon offer players like Stokes multi-year deals of their own.
His IPL franchise, Chennai Super Kings, also own teams in T20 tournaments in South Africa and USA.
Stokes is one of the game’s most coveted stars and could earn more money away from an ECB contract – especially if Saudi Arabia becomes involved in cricket as they have in football and golf.
He is a key Test and T20 player and unretired from one-dayers to play in the World Cup but his chronic knee injury is another area of uncertainty.
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Stokes is also waiting for a new Memorandum of Understanding due to be negotiated next year between the ECB and the players which could significantly change the money on offer.
However, it still seems unlikely that, if he is fit enough, he would miss England’s attempt to regain the Ashes Down Under in two years’ time.
Stokes said last month: “Now I’m 32, I realise things will come to an end at some point.
“But I have my eyes set on something – the England Test team – that I want to be part of for the next three to four years.”
England team supremo Rob Key insisted: “By no means does it mean that Ben Stokes doesn’t want to play for England. As captain of our Test team, all he ever talks about is how we can keep getting better.
“We’re going to start talking soon about the India tour early next year. I wouldn’t read anything into his length of contract.
“Ben, quite rightly, feels when the next MoU starts, he will be in a stronger position.”
We’re rewarding players we expect to make a significant impact in the coming years
Other players including Jos Buttler and Sam Curran are believed to have rejected three-year deals and signed for two instead.
Negotiations dragged on for many weeks and some players reckon the ECB did not keep promises they made in the summer over appearance fees.
They were surprised when the ECB announced the women’s team would receive the same match fees – after all, the men bring in nearly all the money.
Jofra Archer gets a two-year contract even though he hardly ever plays because of injury.
Ollie Robinson, who has 76 wickets at 22 in 19 Tests and will be even more important following Stuart Broad’s retirement, has just a one-year contract, as has 41-year-old Jimmy Anderson.
In total, 26 players have accepted contracts. David Willey is the only member of England’s misfiring World Cup squad not to get a deal.
Key added: “We’re rewarding players we expect to make a significant impact in the coming years.
“Credit to the players for demonstrating their commitment to English cricket in the ever-changing landscape of the sport.”
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