Cricket has taken a huge leap in the direction of club cricket taking one step ahead of international cricket with the sudden mushrooming of T20 leagues around the world, most importantly SA20 in South Africa and ILT20 in Dubai, which has seen Indian investment ramping up the players from all around the world.
It created a massive problem for the cricket boards to manage their resources on the international circuit, with England sending a poor squad for the tour of Bangladesh with one wing playing the Test series in New Zealand and many players being involved in the Pakistan Super League.
While acknowledging that this is a real problem to tackle, England’s managing director of Men’s cricket, Rob Key stated that non-contracted players are being offered "life-changing amounts of money" in exchange for a few weeks of service, which has a huge gap value from the amount offered by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
"At the moment, we can't physically get our strongest team to every single game England play. The other thing that's coming - and it's here now, really - is the cost; the difference in what they get paid for England compared to what they're getting offered around the world," Key told Wisden Cricket Monthly.
"You're talking $500,000 or $600,000 for a few weeks' work, in some cases. If you're not on a central contract then the difference is huge. There's not a person in the world that would actually sit there and go, 'do you know what, I'm not bothered about that amount of money'. You're talking about life-changing amounts of money.
"These are the next things we're having to negotiate. This is what the game has to try and work out what it's going to do. And I don't, at the moment, know the answer. These things have happened almost overnight. This was always coming, but it wasn't until these two leagues in South Africa and the UAE where the money just went 'voom', went up, that it's now started to be really competitive."
According to ESPN Cricinfo, more than 60 Englishmen have been involved in overseas short-form leagues this winter while Alex Hales, Sam Billings and Liam Dawson decided to opt out of the Bangladesh tour to play in the Pakistan Super League. Key said that cricket needs to come together to find some meaning to the matches while adding that England was lucky to have their summer not clashing with any leagues.
"We're lucky: our summer doesn't run alongside these things," Key said. "If you're in Australia, your domestic players are going to get taken to these leagues that are running at the same time.
"The global game, the international game, has to have a serious think and get-together about what it's going to do to make sure that there's meaning in the cricket that we play. That's the key: it's not just about money, we need the meaning to be there to make people want to play.”