In my previous column, I discussed the key findings of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations’ (FICA) global survey of the employment of men’s professional cricketers.
The survey is compiled mostly from cricket data and statistics from the 2018/19 season, as well as questionnaires completed during 2019 by 4,191 professional cricketers from all twelve countries with Test match status plus Scotland. It is worth bearing in mind, though, that only nine have recognised player associations. The notable exclusions are India and Pakistan, which collectively represent 35,6% of all professional cricketers. Cricketers from these countries were interviewed for the survey, but it is perhaps difficult to judge how accurate the opinions really are of more than a third of the world’s professional cricketers.
The survey covered a wide range of topics affecting professional cricketers. The most important of these were the structure of global and domestic cricket, contractual and employment rights issues, whether players believed they are properly represented as a collective group and as such have a voice for their concerns, and the general welfare of professional cricketers.
The results of the survey are expressed in percentages of the number of players answering “yes” or “no” to a question or indicating whether or not they agree with a statement. Almost 50 questions and statements were rated this way. Taking a percentage of 66,6% (or two thirds) as a yardstick for players who clearly feel the same about a particular issue, a pattern starts to emerge.
On most issues, players’ views are around 50%. These were on topics such as whether there is the right amount of domestic T20 cricket around the world (49%), whether there should be a mandatory day/night match in every Test series (55%), whether there should be only one ball manufacturer for all Test cricket (54%), whether they believe they have a clear voice in the future of the game (44%) and whether a player would consider rejecting a national contract in favour of a more lucrative T20 contract (53%).
There were only eighteen issues on which more than two thirds of players felt the same, indicating a strong unified front and not just a simple majority. The bulk of these issues concerned the structure of global and domestic cricket. Examples are whether Test cricket is the most important format of the game (82%) and the importance of the Cricket World Cup as the sport’s most important global event (86%). 76% of players were also opposed to the idea of 4-day Test matches.
If globally players hold 50/50 views on most issues, then addressing their concerns at an international level would not be the best idea as there would not be a strong enough unified voice. For the moment player issues will be better dealt with on a local level by each country’s player organisation. From there it could be taken to FICA if it is a matter of international concern (like the non-payment of overseas players in T20 leagues).