The Yorkshire chief executive feels that there will soon be an increasing divide between red and white-ball specialists, with more young players – as well as players nearing the end of their careers – eyeing lucrative T20 tournaments.
His comments come as he reflected on changes to the English domestic schedule this year which saw large chunks of cricket played in blocks, with specific periods set aside for the Championship, the 50-over Cup and the T20 as opposed to the old system of lumping together the different formats.
“What has been more noticeable this year with the introduction of blocks is that you can go down our entire squad (at Yorkshire) and say that person is better at red-ball cricket and that person is better at white-ball cricket for us at this given time,” said Arthur.
“Indeed, I do believe that in three or four years’ time, there will be very few people who are playing both forms of the game in cricket in general.
“I think you’re going to have red-ball specialists and you’re going to have white-ball specialists. I think you can see that to a certain extent already with England; you’ve got a handful of players who do both – the likes of Root, Bairstow, Ali and Stokes – but the rest are very different, and I think we’ll see more of this in the game going forward.”
Arthur said that players would not be human if they were oblivious to the financial rewards of white-ball cricket.
Several West Indies’ players, for example, have prioritised T20 over Tests, earning much more for just a few hours’ work than they would over the course of a five-day match.
“I think we’ve all got to be mindful that this might happen because, at the end of the day, you’re dealing with human beings,” said Arthur.
“If I was aged 20-23, for example, I would think that I could earn a really good living by playing white-ball cricket.
“I’d also have an eye on the city-based franchise competition that is starting in this country in 2020.
“If I was a young cricketer, I would say, ‘You know what, I want to be in that competition, in front of full houses and on television. That’s where I think I can earn a pretty good living.’
“Equally, players at the end of their careers could think, ‘I’ve got two or three years left and I’m going to concentrate everything on my white-ball skills and make sure that I maximise my earning capabilities.’
“So I think we will see more red-ball specialists and more white-ball specialists.”
Arthur does not believe that this would mean clubs such as Yorkshire having to sign more players, adding: “There’s a limit to how many players you can employ and keep them happy as well.”
However, he feels that the growing divide between red and white-ball cricket could help cricketers in the long run.
“It must have helped the players this year – the batters in particular – not having to switch from playing red-ball cricket Sunday through to Wednesday and then playing T20 on a Friday,” he said.
“It brings greater clarity for all concerned.”