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Counties seek greater incentive for producing England talent

English counties are pushing for an increase in the payments they receive from the ECB when players they have developed appear in international or representative cricket.

Early discussions have started between the 18 first-class counties and the ECB over an updated County Partnership Agreement (CPA) which will replace the existing arrangements and cover the 2025-28 period, and Performance-Related Fee Payments (PRFPs) have been raised as an area for potential change.

Under existing arrangements, counties receive payments when men’s players to whose development they have contributed make appearances for England Under-19s, England Lions or the full England side. These are weighted according to a points system, which ranks multi-day cricket above the shorter formats.

“It’s a really good system,” Gordon Hollins, Somerset’s chief executive, told ESPNcricinfo. “The principle of the system is that counties that develop players who go on to play for England are rewarded and we are very supportive of that because it rewards clubs who do the right thing by the national game. To my knowledge, it doesn’t happen in any other sport.

“What we would like to see is consideration given to a greater level of payment for success: we believe it should be supercharged to provide a real reward for clubs that do the hard yards and develop those players. We’d like it to provide a real incentive to ensure that those rewards are suitable and don’t just cover the cost of a club replacing that player.”

Hollins gave the example of Jack Leach, a graduate of Somerset’s academy who has never played for another county but is now rarely available due to his England commitments. “When we lose Jack, we can back-fill his absence with the money we get, but we don’t get any reward for it and we’d like to see that incentive really boosted.”
In many cases, PRFPs are split between a player’s current county and the county that they represented at academy or pathway levels. “Take Jos Buttler: we get the lion’s share of Jos’s England performance fees,” Hollins said. “Lancashire get a bit, but we get the most because we’ve had the most influence on his career. It’s a good system.”
There are also suggestions that the national counties (formerly minor counties) should be eligible to receive PRFPs, which they are not under the current system. If Shoaib Bashir makes his England debut in India over the coming weeks, Surrey and Somerset will share the relevant PRFPs but Berkshire, whom he represented in his early teens, will not receive any payment.
Somerset’s stance is likely to find support from other first-class counties, not least those who are heavily reliant on central ECB funding. Leicestershire, for example, have long argued that they should have received higher payments than they did for their role in developing Stuart Broad and a change in the system would give them greater reward for bringing Rehan Ahmed through their academy.

An increase in funds for PRFPs was among the recommendations of Andrew Strauss’s High Performance Review in 2022. “Without sufficient incentive to develop professional cricketers, we risk not making the most of the talent pool we have in England,” the report said, while also proposing an increase in the levels of compensation paid when players decide to leave their home counties.

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