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‘We are urging ICC and national boards to come together’ – Lisa Sthalekar on cricket’s future

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Lisa Sthalekar, president of FICA – Federation of International Cricketers Association – urged cricket boards and the ICC to work together to find a resolution with concerns growing over the game’s future increasing. Lisa, the first female president of the organization, made a short visit to Bangladesh and had an impromptu press conference at a city hotel where she disclosed their observation regarding the recent development in the sport that suggests the national boards are losing control over their players as they are mulling with the idea of coming out of their national contract to play franchise cricket all over the world.

Trent Boult’s decision to opt out of the national contract was a huge move in that direction while there are murmurs that Jofra Archer might sign a deal with Mumbai Indians on a yearly basis and if that turns into reality, others might follow suit which could have massive repercussions going forward.

“FICA’s position is that we all see the benefit of T20 cricket. We understand players have a small window to maximize their earnings. A lot of our players are enjoying playing bilateral cricket, ICC events and the T20 leagues. We understand that the men’s calendar is getting quite big. We are urging the ICC and national boards to come together because it is not a solution that can be solved straight away. Certainly the players would like to play a role in that, to see if there’s a way forward for everyone to have their cake and eat it as well,” Lisa told reporters on Tuesday.

“The challenge is not for FICA, it is the national boards wanting to keep their players to play for the country. Ideally we want a strong competition internationally where countries want their best players to play against each other. We are seeing a number of leagues come up, which clashes with bilateral cricket. Men’s calendar is getting pretty full. We are working with the ICC. We are happy to work with the national boards. We represent a big proportion of players that travel around the world. We want to make their decisions easier so that they don’t have to choose one or the other,” she said.

“At the end of the day, FICA is run by the players. We are the voice of the players. Our job is to assist them in any way, shape or form. Whether they are currently in the system, or past players. A big part of what players associations do is actually working with past players, ones who are in financial hardship or medical. I don’t think it affects us. We are still looking after the players. Where they play, isn’t really up to us. We are not in control of the calendar or competitions,” she said adding that she feels ICC have to make a move in this regard.

“The game is changing at a rapid rate. These conversations have been happening for a while behind closed doors, obviously. We are getting to a point where things may break. I know that the ICC is speaking to the national boards. We are speaking to the ICC as well. We have to wait and see how that happens,” she added.

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