PCA - 6th May 2024 - Players voice Welfare concerns

PCA - 6th May 2024 - Players voice Welfare concerns

May 2024

The PCA has today, Monday 6 May, revealed the majority of professional men’s players in England and Wales feel the congested county cricket schedule is not fit for purpose and are concerned for their mental and physical wellbeing.

The Association completed in-depth research during pre-season meetings with all 18 First-Class Counties, which reiterated the issues current players face with 81% admitting the current schedule causes them concern from a physical perspective while two-thirds believe the current structure is not conducive to high-performance.

All clubs were visited in a five-week period ahead of the 2024 season by the PCA leadership team as they hosted their annual meetings to understand current challenges and update members on progress across player-matters.

Widely recognised as a crucial 12-months for cricketers with a number of player-centric negotiations ongoing, those who take the field have provided their views on the game and the key areas that need to change for the betterment for the future of cricket in this country.

Research was gathered through large and breakout group discussions while data was also generated from individual player surveys, which also engaged the England men’s squad, to further understand the priorities of the players.

While 66% believed the current schedule is not conducive to high performance, 76% confirmed the fixture list causes them safety concerns regarding travelling to and from fixtures during the season, backed up by comments on late night driving following Vitality Blast fixtures and also following four-day encounters.

While over eight in 10 worry about their physical heath due to the unrelenting schedule, 62% of the same players noted concern from a mental wellbeing perspective, with many citing the inability to get away from the game during periods of the season.

Rest, recovery and preparation was seen as vital to the progression of careers and minimum standards were discussed. Over 70% of players surveyed said there should be a minimum of three days between four-day games while this rises to 78% who believe there should be at least one rest day between T20s.

Conversation in the meetings largely revolved around solutions, with a genuine understanding from players that there is no simple answer and any change will have repercussions on a percentage of PCA members and the wider game. However, 66% believe too much cricket is played in county cricket across the summer.

To support this, players were quizzed on how they would reduce county cricket gamedays to provide a healthier schedule with feedback due to be presented by the PCA to the ECB and wider game to find genuine solutions.

The views of the players supports data from the 2023 ECB Injury and Illness Surveillance Report which suggests congested sections of the domestic schedule heightens risk of injury.

During the pre-season meetings, the PCA also updated players with a number of topics that matter to them, including the PCA’s priorities for 2024, an update on The Hundred and a discussion on collective rights. Insurance payment scenarios were also highlighted with each meeting finishing on PCA news, date for the cinch PCA Awards and guidance from the PCA’s Financial Wellbeing Partner, Brooks Macdonald.

England and Yorkshire all-rounder, Joe Root, said: “I am extremely passionate about county cricket and it is apparent the schedule needs to change for a host of reasons to see long-lasting benefits for English cricket.

“I am fortunate to play a significant part of the season for Yorkshire this year and looking at the fixture list from a physical, wellbeing and high-performance angle does cause me concern.

“County cricket is the breeding ground for some of the best talent in the game and this requires world leading structures to allow players to reach their full potential. This is a benefit for everybody in the game.

“Having space to recover, prepare and improve your game during the season is crucial and the creation of minimum standards to protect travel windows and player welfare is non-negotiable.”

PCA Chair and Glamorgan bowler, James Harris, said: “It is the PCA’s role to gather the views of current players and this year’s pre-season meetings were key to understanding the collective view from across the country.

“The schedule divides opinion and we have seen a heightened sense of emotion linked to this in recent years. We know there is a genuine feeling from inside the game that the schedule does not work, we cannot accept these words with no action for any longer.

“Cricketers are there to provide entertainment and to do so need basic minimum standards such as rest and recovery to provide the best possible product on the field to supporters, broadcasters and commercial partners. These standards are currently not at the expectation of a modern-day professional cricketer.

“We appreciate a reduction of the county cricket may not meet the approvals of every member, however, we have a duty to challenge the game to protect our players and it is important the PCA is at the table as a leading voice on this topic as we look to evolve the domestic game at the speed required to keep up and aim to exceed competitors.”

PCA Chief Operating Officer, Daryl Mitchell, said: “Seeing all county squads this pre-season was a fascinating insight into the issues that are prevalent for a professional cricketer in 2024.

“The domestic schedule has been on the agenda for a long time and now there is a strong feeling the game has to listen to its most vital assets, its players. Having said this, everybody is aware there is no simple solution and one size does not fit all for our membership. In terms of career paths, we now have the most diverse playing group we have ever seen.

“On behalf of our members, it is important the PCA works collaboratively with the counties and the ECB to progress standards and protect the future rights of players in England and Wales.

“A reduction in cricket has to be strongly looked at as the solution which the game desperately needs.”