ECB to reward home-grown talents

The England Cricket Board today launched a series of initiatives as part of their four-year strategy looking towards 2009, the most significant including moves to arrest the quickening tide of “Kolpak” overseas players in the County Championship.

The Kolpak rule, named after Slovenian handball player Marius Kolpak, allows players from non-EU countries to play without restriction under the grounds of freedom of movement. Several English counties have signed numerous foreign players, in particular South Africans, attracted by the lower salaries.

However, today’s incentives, announced by ECB Chief Executive David Collier, seem set to dissuade counties from making judgments on purely financial grounds, as Collier claimed the payments “will be around £200 per day per England-qualified player, which equates to £20,000 per player.”

The strategic framework also includes initiatives to further improve public recognition of the England team and a £5 million “Community Fund” earmarked for clubs and schools nationwide. England coach Duncan Fletcher may also be able to name a 25-man development squad, as well as resting the selected elite players from the rigours of the domestic game.

England skipper Michael Vaughan came out in support of the plan, stating “The crucial facts of the last year or so are that England has had a number of heroes for the kids to look up to. There are a lot of people talking about cricket now.”

The Strategic Plan – Summary
I – Governance
Reduce the number of ECB Committees to three
Disband First Class Forum
Transform payments to counties toward performance
II – Domestic Game
Nurture the expansion of the domestic game
Incentivise home-grown selection of players
III – Grassroots
Create £5m community fund
Incentives for low average-age Minor Countoes
IV – National Side
Introduce 25-man Development Squad
England ‘A’ team to play Summer tourists

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