Fringe players brace for Second XI departure

By BRAD ILOTT

The Toyota Second XI competition looks set to be scrapped by Cricket Australia (CA) for season 2020-21 as the financial ramifications of COVID-19 continue to rock the governing body.

With a contract embargo on states for the foreseeable future, players on the cusp of Sheffield Shield or Marsh One-Day Cup selection will have another wait on their hands.

Uncontracted players will not be able to rely on match payments or potential upgrade points that Second XI opportunities provide to make ends meet, as cut Victorian batsman Eamonn Vines explained on Monday.

There has been no announcement of potential replacements on the domestic calendar, but it is understood that players in Second XI squads have been told Premier Cricket pathways will be considered for state selection.

The upgrade point system will not be rejigged, meaning the only available match payments will be for first-class and List A matches this season.

CA views the impending axing as a necessity to cut costs, although national youth championships and other representative tournaments such as the Australian Country Cricket Championships are expected to go ahead.

The second-tier competition provides players the chance to represent their state or territory and press for higher honours in four-day cricket, while a Twenty20 competition was added in 2019 for those eyeing off Big Bash League spots.

The Second XI competition rules were amended at the start of last season to reflect a genuine “next best” team, instead of the “Futures (under 23)” moniker of previous editions.

Despite numerous reassurances from CA regarding Premier Cricket, a shortened Shield season is currently in the works to cut costs, which has drawn the ire of the Australian Cricketers Association and current players such as Australian Test opener Joe Burns.

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