Ben Stokes opts against multi-year England extension after 26 central contracts announced

England have signed their leading male players to multi-year central contracts for the first time but Test captain Ben Stokes has only accepted a one-year extension.

The England and Wales Cricket Board has been revising its approach in a bid to meet the challenge presented by franchise leagues around the world and guarantee the availability of its star names for international duty.

Joe Root, Harry Brook and Mark Wood have all been tied to three-year deals, binding them to the cause until October 2026, while a further 15 players are on two-year arrangements.

But Stokes’ presence among a list of eight players on traditional one-year contracts is intriguing. His leadership of the red-ball side has been transformational, he played a starring role in winning last year’s T20 World Cup and was persuaded out of ODI retirement to take part in the ongoing World Cup, making him arguably the most important individual in the entire set-up.

It is understood he was offered a three-year deal but opted for the shorter-term option.

The central contracts do not prevent recipients taking up lucrative T20 deals, but they do allow the ECB greater oversight on availability.

Jofra Archer has signed for two more years, a show of faith in his ability after a long running fitness battle, 19-year-old Rehan Ahmed has the same security and becomes the youngest man to earn an ECB deal.

At the other end of the age spectrum 41-year-old James Anderson has another annual retainer and 35-year-old Dawid Malan returns to the list after missing out in 2022.

Pace bowling development contracts have also been awarded to Matthew Fisher, Saqib Mahmood and the uncapped John Turner.

Jason Roy, who terminated the remainder of his previous deal to play in the United States of American’s Major League Cricket earlier this year, is a notable omission. After missing out on the World Cup squad, his international career appears to be over. David Willey is the only member of the current World Cup squad not to feature.

Also absent are Surrey’s highly-rated Will Jacks, a hard-hitting, bowling all-rounder capped in all three formats in the past year, Olly Stone and the Overton twins Craig and Jamie.

Rob Key, managing director of England men’s cricket, said: “We are rewarding those players who we expect to make a significant impact over the coming years playing for England.

“It is great news and a credit to the players for demonstrating their commitment to English cricket in the ever-changing landscape of the sport.

“I would like to congratulate all the players who have been offered contracts. They will play a pivotal role in England’s efforts over the next few years.”

England central contracts

Three-year deals: H Brook, J Root, M Wood.

Two-year deals: R Ahmed, J Archer, G Atkinson, J Bairstow, J Buttler, B Carse, Z Crawley, S Curran, B Duckett, L Livingstone, O Pope, M Potts, A Rashid, J Tongue, C Woakes.

One-year deals: M Ali, J Anderson, B Foakes, J Leach, D Malan, O Robinson, B Stokes, R Topley.Development deals: M Fisher, S Mahmood, J Turner.