Oborne & Heller on Cricket

From teenage record breaker to players’ champion: James Harris of Glamorgan and the PCA

March 28, 2023 Richard Heller, Roger Alton, James Harris Season 1 Episode 116
Oborne & Heller on Cricket
From teenage record breaker to players’ champion: James Harris of Glamorgan and the PCA
Show Notes

After a record-breaking early start in county cricket for Glamorgan, James Harris is back with them after spells with Middlesex and Kent. He has also begun his second term as chair of the Professional Cricketers Association. He is the guest of Peter Oborne and Richard Heller in their latest cricket-themed podcast. In this edition Roger Alton replaces Peter as co-host.

James has just returned from Glamorgan’s pre-season tour of Zimbabwe. He gives an upbeat account of the country and its cricket.

He looks forward to reconnecting with his colleague Marnus Labuschagne, who will be rejoining the county in advance of the Ashes series. He describes him as a great player who has kept the eagerness of a t2-year-old.

He gives an overview of the PCA. Its founder, Fred Rumsey of Somerset and England, had found it hard to recruit among the generally conservative cricketers of the 1960s. But this was not true today: membership for first-class cricketers was almost automatic, as they took stock of its wide range of services at a very reasonable subscription. It represented professional players in the first-class game, present and past (for life if they wanted). Present membership was 475 men and 99 women (up from 18 in just a few years). The membership included overseas players with an English professional contract and when necessary the PCA represented English players overseas. It had relationships with other countries’ players unions through the Federation of International Cricket Associations.

He had involved himself under the influence of friends and team mates at Glamorgan, and as a payback for a fulfilling professional career of 17 years (at just 32). Re-elected for a second term, he would now serve as chairman for another two years. Although demanding, the job was a rich opportunity for personal development, combining board membership of the PCA, being a trustee of its charity, and a regular place at the table on major issues with the England and Wales Cricket Board. As the voice of playing members, he saw its prime responsibilities in securing for them a fair share of all the game’s revenues, looking after their welfare and well-being, creating an environment that encouraged them to play at their best, and to prepare them for life after their playing careers. The PCA had to react rapidly to constant change in domestic and global cricket.

James explains the complex arrangements that now determine English county finances and players’ earnings. Although some counties are better off than others, he believes that English cricket is now reasonably stable financially, helped by money from the Hundred filtering down to all levels of cricket. He sees no danger of county clubs following rugby union clubs into insolvency with unsustainable wage bills. He describes the impact of the salary collar and cap in county cricket and the range of earnings from professional county cricket. The PCA had secured its objective of £27,500 a year as a starting salary for a professional in his first year. The 18 counties were independent employers not tied to a salary scale but he thought that their best-paid players were on something over £100,000. Earnings and opportunities were not remotely comparable with those of football, and he suggested that there was no economic motive for sportspeople to choose cricket for over other sports – they do this for the appeal of the game itself.

Continue reading here: chiswickcalendar.co.uk/episode-116-from-teenage-record-breaker-to-players-champion-james-harris-of-glamorgan-and-the-pca

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