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  Monday, 12 August, 2002, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Central contracts extended
Duncan Fletcher and Tim Lamb
Fletcher and Lamb are keen to contract more players
A maximum of 20 players will be awarded central contracts by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The game's First Class Forum met at Lord's on Monday and voted 18-1 to the increase in contracts from the current 12 players.

Central contracts, introduced in 2000, have been seen as a significant part in England's recent improved results.

They have allowed coach Duncan Fletcher to oversee his players' training and protecting them from playing too much.

A maximum of 16 players will receive 12-month deals, which will run from 1 October.


There has been a very discernible improvement in the performances of the England team over the past couple of years
Tim Lamb

The remaining players, likely to be academy cricketers, will get six-month summer contracts.

Those awarded 12-month central contracts can expect to earn about 250,000-a-year.

There were rumours counties would have to reimburse the ECB, to the tune of 2,700 for a county match and 1,350 for a one-day game, each time they used a centrally contracted player.

But it was agreed the ECB would not clawback income from the counties because they had been the ones who had nurtured the players.

Tim Lamb, chief executive of the ECB, said: "I am delighted that the FCF has supported, so whole-heartedly, the further enhancement of the England central contracts system.

"There has been a very discernible improvement in the performances of the England team over the past couple of years, and this decision is all about giving the England management further control and resources to produce a world-class team."

Those in line for a lucrative central contract include Kent's Robert Key, who made his England debut at Trent Bridge, and pace bowler Simon Jones.

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 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Nigel Adderley
"Almost unanimous backing"
England captain Nasser Hussain
"It is very good news"
ECB's John Carr
"We realise how important it is England do well"
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