A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: Alastair Cook attempts to calm fears about inevitable contract dispute

Cook believes the top priority for all players should be the Champions Trophy and back-to-back Ashes series

England captain Alastair Cook has attempted to calm fears about an inevitable contract dispute between players and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) over an increase in wages and more freedom to play in domestic Twenty20 tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Just recently,¬†Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) chief executive Angus Porter noted that England players were “substantially underpaid”, especially in comparison to Australian players.

Porter also stated that the England players deserve to be given higher salaries due to the fact that they constantly sacrifice not playing in domestic Twenty20 tournaments, where contracts can be worth millions of dollars, to stay committed to England’s international schedule.

With the 2013 IPL right around the corner, many England players, like wicketkeeper-batsman Matt Prior, went unsold in the player auction since the franchises know that they will only have him on a temporary basis.

From the current England side, only ace batsmen Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Luke Wright have contracts for the 2013 IPL, while the rest of the squad will be at home preparing for the New Zealand series, which gets underway with a Test match at Lord’s on May 16.

Nottinghamshire also became the first county to ban all players from taking part in the IPL due to the English county season being right around the corner.

This decision has dealt huge blows to players like Alex Hales, Michael Lumb and Samit Patel, all of whom were almost guaranteed decent contracts in the star-studded Twenty20 extravaganza.

However, with the Champions Trophy set to be hosted by England in June, which will be followed by a back-to-back Ashes series, Cook stated that the top priority for all players should be wearing “the three lions” crest on their shirts.

“Playing for England is such a huge honour it should always remain that,” Cook said. “You have a very short career and you have every right to try and earn as much money as possible because it’s a professional sport. But the crux of the matter is how lucky we are and how much pride there should be in wearing the three lions.

“Clearly, with policies and rotation, people are missing games. We have to look at that for longevity but we should remember how lucky we are. We’re very lucky to be doing what we’re doing.”

However, Cook admitted that there will be some issues raised when the new contracts are handed out in October.

“Of course when contracts come up for discussion, for renewal, there will always be the issue of availability and money,” Cook added. “This is not really the time for me to talk about it … there will be another time to sit around the table with everyone and speak about it there. I haven’t spoken to Angus about what he said.”

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