England managing director Rob Key insists that Test captain Ben Stokes is “completely committed” to playing for his country despite turning down a three-year contract.
Stokes has instead signed a one-year central contract extension, with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) revising its approach as they look to guarantee the availability of star names in the face of big-money franchise cricket offers.
The likes of Harry Brook, Joe Root and Mark Wood are the only players to be given three-year central contracts as part of a new multi-year system.
Fast-bowler Jofra Archer, despite his injury issues, and spinner Adil Rashid, 35, are among those on two-year deals, which also includes limited-overs captain Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow.
Batter Dawid Malan, who missed out on a full deal last year, was given a one-year contract off the back of his red-hot form in recent months, while veteran bowler James Anderson was also handed a one-year deal.
But Stokes turning down a longer-term contract is an interesting call with Key admitting the 32-year-old is looking to secure a better deal next year.
“By no means is it Ben Stokes saying, 'I don't want to play for England',” Key told BBC Sport.
“All he talks about is being completely committed to playing for England and also captaining that Test team – planning for India, planning for the Ashes, planning for West Indies and Sri Lanka next summer.
“I don't think it has crossed his mind not playing for England for the next four, five, six years.
“Ben, quite rightly, feels when the next memorandum of understanding starts and the contract cycle changes he will be in a stronger position. Other players have gone for that security.”
All-rounder Stokes is currently out in India for the 50-over World Cup after coming out of one-day international retirement to play in the tournament solely as a batter.
But he has managed to play just one game so far due to injury – where he made only five runs as England fell to a record-breaking defeat against South Africa – as the reigning champions look unlikely to reach the semi-finals after losing four out of five matches so far.
Brook, 24, is among seven players to have been given a central contract for the first time along with Rehan Ahmed, Gus Atkinson, Brydon Carse, Ben Duckett, Matthew Potts and Josh Tongue – who have all got two-year contracts.
“The system, which covers both red-ball and white-ball players, considers the likelihood of players featuring in England teams across formats over the next period while recognising performances in the preceding year,” the ECB said in a statement.
“Multi-year contracts have been awarded for the first time since central contracts were established in 2000.
“The ECB has worked closely with the Professional Cricketers' Association and Team England Player Partnership on behalf of the players to reach an outcome for all parties.”