Chris Waters: Yorkshire CCC boss Martyn Moxon facing contracts conundrum
That is Martyn Moxon’s succinct verdict on the difficulty in trying to negotiate deals with out-of-contract players.
Yorkshire have several in that position at the end of this season, including past and present England players in the form of Liam Plunkett, David Willey and Tim Bresnan.
Adil Rashid is another whose contract will be reviewed at the end of the summer, following his decision to play white-ball only cricket.
For director of cricket Moxon and the players themselves, the difficulty lies in the uncertainty surrounding the landscape of cricket in the coming years.
On the one hand, Yorkshire and their fellow counties are anxious to protect themselves from losing players to the various short-form competitions around the world, while, on the other hand, the players naturally want to maximise their talents and opportunities in a fairly short career.
Never have the priorities of the counties and the players, indeed, been more divergent, highlighted by Plunkett and Willey suddenly jetting off one week before the start of the County Championship season to take part in the money-spinning Indian Premier League, consequently throwing Yorkshire’s plans into turmoil.
Moxon, who is part of an England and Wales Cricket Board working party looking into the structure of county cricket from 2020 onwards, described the current situation as horrible.
“It’s never been so difficult in my 20-odd years as a coach, trying to get something that fits for the player and fits for the club,” he said. “It’s a nightmare. The problem is, it’s all new territory; players obviously want as much security as possible, while clubs have to safeguard themselves against risk if those players are not available for whatever reason to avoid paying out big basic salaries.
“It’s extremely complicated, balancing the books and trying to guess what availability there is, taking into account players’ desire to play abroad in the winter and whether they’re going to be playing in the IPL and so on.”
The difficulty is heightened by the ECB’s much-maligned 100-ball franchise tournament set to start in 2020.
No-one yet knows how that competition is going to look, or what cricket may be played alongside it at county level, meaning that counties and players are shooting in the dark.
Just as it is difficult for the likes of Moxon to strike the right deals, so it is tricky for the players, too.
What length/type of county contract do they sign? Will they be involved in the new competition? What opportunities will exist to play T20 tournaments in the winter, tournaments that often impact on counties’ pre-season plans?
There remains a plethora of unanswered questions.
Perhaps the only good news is that the players and counties seem to understand that each find themselves in a tricky situation.
In the final analysis, Moxon wants the best for his players as well as for Yorkshire, while whatever the lure of the various global tournaments, no-one would deny that the likes of Plunkett and Willey are not fully committed when they turn out for Yorkshire.
The sadness is that the situation effectively pits man against man, player against county.
It is the inevitable consequence when money holds sway.