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Lucrative contracts in popular Twenty20 Leagues are being preferred over national contracts, posing a significant threat to quality of international cricket, a Federation of International Cricketers Association (FICA) report has claimed.

According to Cricinfo, the first global employment report on men’s professional cricketers, released by the FICA says the “traditional model is under significant threat from alternative employment” options available in the “new market” as players have evolved their game, a consequence of playing in different T20 leagues.

The report, titled ‘Shifting Landscape’, is based on responses from 300 cricketers across the world but not from India or Pakistan, where there are no player associations.

“We are seeing the beginnings of a trend in which annual contracts across all formats of the game, are being declined by players at both domestic and international level worldwide. This ‘flight of talent’ from the traditional ‘vertical’ pathway with players moving to where they are increasingly valued, and can build more lucrative careers has the potential to undermine both the quality and value of international cricket, which already sees many top players in the world not playing for their national teams on a regular basis, or at all,” the report said.

The Cricinfo report further said FICA finds that more young players are now taking a “horizontal pathway” – where they travel the world year-round playing various domestic T20 leagues like the IPL and the Big Bash (the two most popular voted by the players).

“That offers them greater financial security and better work-life balance in the absence of a coherent international cricket structure, and is a break from the traditional “vertical pathway” in which a player graduates through a domestic system to international cricket.”