Flintoff’s rejection of an England central contract is another triumph for private capital over national good. It was the England and Lancashire teams that nurtured his development into an international star worthy of private interest, yet as he’s auctioned-off around the world it's Andrew ‘Chubby’ Chandler who collects the rewards.
There is nothing new about mercenary cricket. After all, the sport developed with wealthy English patrons hiring freelance ‘professionals’ in the 1700s. Of course back then the game was also defined by gambling and match-fixing. But in today’s post-crisis age of austerity it is particularly galling to read Chandler gloating about the deals he is to make.
Yet concerns that freelance cricketers embody a final ‘globalisation’ of the sport remain unfounded.
Developing a gifted child into a world-class athlete is a lengthy and risky investment. Even now the ECB pays for Flintoff’s rehabilitation. National boards have to realise that they remain central to the developing world order. Young players must still learn in domestic cricket before getting the chance to play abroad. They should use this power to ensure a cut of the deals and protect the interests of the national team.
It’s time to regulate the agents and ensure successful cricketers return money to the people that made them instead.