Cricket: Graveney wants contracts resolved

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The Independent Online
DAVID GRAVENEY yesterday called for a quick resolution to England's World Cup contracts issue before it threatens to undermine the crucial final stages of the side's preparations for this summer's tournament.

Graveney, the chairman of selectors, was speaking as he arrived with England's 15-man squad in Lahore, where the team will acclimatise before contesting the Coca-Cola Cup in Sharjah against India and Pakistan next week, their final competitive fixtures before the World Cup.

With six weeks until the World Cup begins, the England and Wales Cricket Board has still to give contract details to the 15 selected players despite lengthy negotiations between the England captain, Alec Stewart, and the international team director, Simon Pack.

"I'm keen that everything is resolved and everyone is happy with it and that those negotiations do not get in the way of playing the game," Graveney explained.

The players are believed to be asking for around pounds 50,000 a man, based on incentives for reaching each stage and appearance money, if they become the first host country to win the World Cup. But the ECB's offer is likely to fall well short of that figure because the Board is still to secure four of its anticipated eight sponsors for the tournament.

"My own personal view, for what it is worth, is that selection for the World Cup should be recognised," Graveney said. "The players should receive some reward for being selected in the squad and then identify tiers which they reach in the tournament and that should be reflected financially."

Because of the logistics involved in sending the contracts out to the squad, the players are unlikely to sign until they return but Graveney is acting as an intermediary between Stewart and Pack in the meantime, in the hope that an agreement can be reached.

"What I would like to do is get everybody to agree the terms before the Sharjah tournament," Graveney added. "Lahore has many plus-points, and the main one is the amount of time the team spends together here.

"It's good for team spirit and the week we spent here before we played in Sharjah last time I thought was instrumental in creating the spirit we took into that tournament.

"There is no doubt the World Cup is the pinnacle as a one-day competition and that has to be kept in mind when it comes to the contracts."