PCA - 23rd November 2023 - PCA Player schedule concerns

PCA - 23rd November 2023 - PCA Player schedule concerns

November 23rd 2023

Following the announcement of the domestic men’s fixture list for 2024, the PCA has listened to its members on concerns regarding the schedule and the pressures it places on player welfare.

Whilst recognising the challenges of maintaining a balanced schedule for all, the PCA is aware of views throughout the county game, following member engagement.

The PCA held its annual Player Summit in October with the domestic men’s schedule high on the agenda. Amongst the considered conversations, the Players’ Committee highlighted ‘dangerous travel windows’ following an unrelenting fixture list in 2023 that saw games on consecutive days played at different areas of the country.

Following member feedback on player welfare from a safety perspective, both physically and mentally, the Association has raised concerns with the ‘Professional Game Committee’. There is a feeling from the player-body that the game is prioritising commercial revenue over player welfare and high performance environments.

PCA Chair, James Harris, said:

“Fixture release day is always an exciting time for everybody in the game and players are no different, as a group we are already focusing on making 2024 a year to remember.

“It is refreshing to see the County Championship played in each month of the season and an increase in double headers between the men’s and women’s game is welcomed. However, the men’s domestic schedule must evolve further to meet the needs of modern professional athletes.

“While the opportunities players have are no doubt greater than ever before, the county system must adapt to allow players the chance to progress their careers in a way that respects the welfare of the individuals who perform on the pitch.

“The recent Player Summit saw the men’s county schedule as a high priority with the players in attendance displaying a dissatisfaction at the structure following research within their dressing rooms.

“As a union, we are constantly talking to our membership, with formal meetings such as the Summit, AGM, pre-season meetings and surveys supplemented by constant informal communication. It is apparent things need to change for 2025.”

Essex’s PCA rep, Trent Rockets and England Lions bowler, Sam Cook, said:

“My biggest issue is the welfare of players and support staff being disregarded, particularly with regards to travel throughout high-intensity periods of T20 cricket.

“This has been repeatedly stressed in numerous PCA Summits and despite this, the schedule still provides the same problems by not focusing on player welfare.

“In addition, the expectation to perform despite inadequate recovery time across formats concerns me greatly. This has an enormous impact on both performance and increases the risk of injury. As players, we want to give supporters the highest standards possible and in turn create an even better product for the ECB and the game.”

Gloucestershire’s PCA rep, Welsh Fire and England bowler, David Payne, said:

“There is a belief that the unrelenting fixture list means players have to pick and choose between formats and this will likely accelerate without minimum standards such as rest, recovery and preparation between games.

“Looking specifically at our fixtures at Gloucestershire, there are a number of occasions that do not allow appropriate time between fixtures. Finishing a T20 game late on a Thursday night in Cardiff, followed by playing another T20 the following night in Bristol, and expecting to be at peak condition to play a four-day game at Scarborough on the Sunday morning is one example. This sort of scheduling simply does not allow for high performance, or look after the welfare of the players.

“As players we appreciate the difficulties our sport provides through the unique challenges with different formats. However, as a game we have to work together so player welfare is prioritised to create the best environment for a spectacle that allows the growth of the game.”

PCA Chief Executive, Rob Lynch, said:

“On a day that is full of excitement and anticipation, the announcement of the 2024 fixtures is a reminder that the men’s domestic calendar in England and Wales is unsustainable and is in need of reform for the interests of current and future professional cricketers and therefore the future of our game.

“We are aware the ECB acknowledges the schedule is not ideal and following recent game-wide conversations, we understand the game has an ambition to look seriously at the 2025 fixture list. We have heard this commitment in the past and the professional game has not delivered. Collectively, we need to act to advance player welfare to future-proof our sport and the PCA wishes to fully collaborate with the ECB and game to make this a reality.”