Thursday, May 30, 2024

Ireland’s male cricketers reject central contract offers ahead of Pakistan series

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Ireland’s cricketers have rejected contract offers made to them by the sport’s governing body in the build-up to their upcoming series at home against Pakistan.

Last week, the Irish male players opted to decline terms offered by Cricket Ireland. Ireland women, who finished an unsuccessful T20 World Cup qualifying campaign on Sunday, have yet to decide on the most recent offer having opted to instead focus on their qualification attempt.

On Friday, the Irish home summer begins with a three-match T20 series between the Ireland men and Pakistan at Clontarf. Ireland will travel to the USA to begin their T20 World Cup campaign early next month.

At the end of the last calendar year, when it emerged that Cricket Ireland would receive a funding increase from the International Cricket Council (ICC), Irish players started discussing pay rises with their employer. The Irish Cricketers’ Association (ICA), a union for the players, negotiates on their behalf.

Cricket Ireland only became aware of the exact amount of funding coming their way from the ICC in March, after the expiration of last year’s central contracts. Ireland have played a number of fixtures after March 1st, including a maiden Test victory over Afghanistan, but with no contracts for 2024 in place, these matches took place with players operating under last year’s terms which have rolled over indefinitely. Players agreed to continue to train and play under last year’s salaries in order to preserve fixtures and to continue to access benefits such as injury cover.

Cricket Ireland had initially planned to access an extra $1.5 million in ICC funding ahead of schedule, but this did not happen. The cost of hosting matches abroad, which Ireland will do when playing South Africa in the UAE in the autumn, also increased. As a result of these unforeseen financial events, Cricket Ireland was forced to readdress their budget for 2024.

The board did not sign off on this year’s budgetary plans until last month. This delayed both the announcement of fixtures for the home summer and contract discussions with the players.

Negotiations have continued since then, with the most recent offer being rejected by the male playing group last week. Until contracts for 2024 are agreed, players will remain on last year’s terms. Any difference in salary that is ultimately agreed will be backdated to March 1st when this year’s contracts were supposed to begin.

After the upcoming three-match series against Pakistan, Ireland travel to the Netherlands for a tri-series against the Dutch and Scotland. Their T20 World Cup campaign begins against India on June 5th in New York. Ireland will also play Canada, the USA and Pakistan while in America.

Ireland women are next in action in August at home to Sri Lanka. They also welcome England in September but a provisional series against the Netherlands is now unlikely to go ahead after T20 World Cup qualification and a resulting participation fee from the ICC was not secured.

Cricket Ireland declined to comment on the negotiations. The ICA was also contacted for comment.

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