England Test captain Ben Stokes has rejected the offer of a three-year contract, instead agreeing to a 12-month deal which was amongst the 26 central contracts announced by the ECB on Tuesday.
Stokes’ decision comes as a surprise, given he recently un-retired from One Day Internationals to play in the ongoing World Cup, and is a guaranteed pick for England in all three formats when fit.
Rob Key, England’s managing director, reaffirmed Stokes’ commitment to his country, stating: “By no means does it mean Ben Stokes doesn’t want to play for England.”
Other headlines from England’s contract announcement include a three-year deal for pace-bowler Mark Wood.Embed from Getty Images
One of the fastest bowlers in the world, Wood has struggled with injuries for several years but returned to action in dramatic fashion during last summer’s Ashes series, contributing with both bat and ball as the Three Lions won the third Test. He played the remaining two matches and has featured in every World Cup game so far.
Such a long-term contract comes as a shock, given he is 33 years old and has struggled to stay fit for much of his career.
Star batsmen Joe Root and Harry Brook are the other two players to have received three-year deals, with England keen to secure the futures of two players in different periods of their careers.
Whilst Root has been regarded as one of the best batsmen in the world for some time, Brook burst onto the scene last year, and has four centuries in just 12 Test matches. He is a key player in for England all formats, and is highly regarded by franchise sides around the world.
Amongst those given two-year contracts includes Jofra Archer, the fast-bowler whose international career has been plagued by injuries. He returned to the England white-ball side in Bangladesh last March, but missed the entire summer with yet another elbow fracture.Embed from Getty Images
England Test regulars Zak Crawley and Ollie Pope have both received two-year deals, with multi-format players Jonny Bairstow, Ben Duckett and Chris Woakes also being given 24-month contracts.
Of England’s World Cup squad, only bowler David Willey misses out on a deal, with captain Jos Buttler, as well as Gus Atkinson, Brydon Carse, Sam Curran, Liam Livingstone and Adil Rashid handed two-year terms. The injured Reece Topley, plus veterans Moeen Ali and Dawid Malan have signed 12-month deals.
Another notable name to sign a deal running for a year is James Anderson, with the legendary bowler nearing the end of his career at 41.