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ECB shakes up cricket contract system

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The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has overhauled its central contract system, bringing renewed emphasis on leading limited-overs players.

The new arrangement splits the senior international group into Test and limited-overs specialists - the most-significant restructure since since central contracting was introduced 14 years ago to great effect.

Four players - batsman Joe Root and allrounders Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali - have been included in both pools, with six others handed Test-only deals and seven more in the white-ball grouping.

The ECB has been keen to elevate the standing of one-day and Twenty20 cricket, with next year's Champions Trophy and the 2019 World Cup both being hosted on home turf.

Director of England Cricket Andrew Strauss said it was undeniable that the introduction of central contracts in 2002 had greatly benefited the England Test team.

"During this period, the team has consistently performed well against the other Test nations around the world. We hope that continues over the next few years.

"The international game is evolving rapidly, and we have to keep pace with developments on the field. Our game-wide strategy sets out the objective of creating balance between the formats, and this is reflected by the restructure of central contracts.

"Ultimately, we are fully committed to developing world-class players in both red and white-ball cricket to aid the goal of becoming the world's No.1 team."

Under previous provisions, only the one-day captain Eoin Morgan was eligible for a central deal while other non-Test players could at best earn incremental deals.

Ian Bell was among the 11 contracted players for 2015-16 but his international career has effectively been ended by coach Trevor Bayliss and he does not feature.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow is upgraded from an incremental supplement last year to a Test deal following a fine season with the bat, while Mark Wood is retained despite persistent injury troubles.

Alex Hales, Jason Roy, Adil Rashid and David Willey arguably benefit most from the revised terms, winning recognition for their key roles in the limited-overs set-up.

Test contracts: M Ali, J Anderson, J Bairstow, S Broad, A Cook, S Finn, J Root, B Stokes, C Woakes, M Wood.

White-ball contracts: M Ali, J Buttler, A Hales, E Morgan, L Plunkett, J Root, J Roy, A Rashid, B Stokes, C Woakes, D Willey.

Increment contract: G Ballance

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