Jason Roy has become the first England player to end his national contract in order to play franchise cricket.
Opener Roy has opted to cancel his incremental England deal - worth £60,000-£70,000 - to play in the American Major League Cricket, where he could earn £150,000 for one season.
The 32-year-old will still be available for national selection.
Roy said: “To be very clear, my priority is England cricket, especially with a World Cup soon upon us.” Writing on social media, he added: “It is for me, and for any player, the greatest honour to receive a cap to play for their country.
“I wanted to clarify that I am not and never will walk away from England.” An England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) statement said: “Jason Roy has informed the England and Wales Cricket Board that he wishes to take up an agreement with Major League Cricket in the USA later this summer.
“The ECB have agreed for him to play in the competition on the proviso that he gives up the remainder of his ECB incremental contract, which both parties have agreed to.
“The ECB wish to clarify that this decision will not affect Jason’s selection for England teams going forward. We have absolute confidence and faith that Jason is committed to England cricket.”
Roy has been a key component of England’s dominance of the global white-ball game, a regular in the side that was crowned 50-over world champions in 2019.
However, a loss of form saw him dropped from the squad that won the T20 World Cup last year and, in October, he saw his central contract downgraded to an incremental deal.
With Major League Cricket taking place between the T20 Blast and The Hundred, Roy might have been ordered to rest by England, especially with the defence of the 50-over World Cup on the horizon in India in October and November.
Instead, Roy will end his England deal, forgo the rest of his salary up to its expiry at the end of September.
“Representing my country continues to be my proudest moment as a professional cricketer,” added Roy.
“I hope to play for England for many more years. That remains my priority.
“I’ve had clear and supportive conversations with the ECB about participating in Major League Cricket. The ECB were happy with me to play in the competition as long as they didn’t have to pay me for the remainder of the contractual year.
“As a single-format player with no central contract I wanted to take the opportunity to play this competition as there are currently no scheduling conflicts with England. It benefits me as an England player to play as much competitive cricket as possible.”
Writing on Twitter former England captain Michael Vaughan wrote: “I don’t get the big issue about Jason Roy. He hasn’t got any England games and has been offered a nice contract in the States so he has taken it. It is inevitable that we will see more of this in the future. And I have no problem with it.”
Though there is some overlap with the Blast, it is understood Roy will remain with his county Surrey if they reach finals day, before returning to play for Oval Invincibles in The Hundred in August.
Roy has played five Tests, 116 one-day internationals and 64 T20s for England, scoring almost 6,000 international runs.
His decision is the latest in a fast-changing landscape of global cricket, with the money on offer to players in franchise leagues challenging the primacy of international matches.
A number of players chose to skip England’s white-ball tour of Bangladesh earlier this year in favour of franchise deals, while there have been reports of franchise owners preparing to offer long contracts to the biggest stars.
Earlier this month, former England all-rounder Ravi Bopara told the Test Match Special podcast: “It is a real thing to start thinking about for the players.
“If they are offering long-term contracts, I’m talking three, four or five years, then it is a serious subject to start thinking about as a player.” In response, England are set to revamp their central contract system, with greater flexibility and possibly more money on offer.
Some players could be offered multi-year deals to guard against the attraction of franchise leagues.
White-ball specialists could be offered small retainer contracts but increased match fees, to make England tours more financially attractive than a stint playing in a league.