Pay gap closes but CA, ACA acknowledge more to do

A $1.2m boost will see average base salaries climb for WNCL and WBBL players as CA chief vows he won't rest until there is 'genuine parity' across the game

Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley concedes there's still "a really big gap" in the salaries of male and female cricketers despite women's players being thousands of dollars better off this season.

A $1.2m cash injection, announced today by CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association, means the average base salary for a woman who holds a contract in both the Weber WBBL and WNCL will jump to more than $65,000 this season, an increase of more than $10,000 on last summer.

This is compared to an average retainer of $198,000 a year for a male player who plays all formats at domestic level.

Players of both genders also receive match payments throughout the season on top of their base wage.

Australia's women's cricketers are amongst the best paid female athletes in the country, but Hockley said the sport "won't rest until there is genuine parity across all elements of the game".

"We pride ourselves over recent years on really leading the charge about driving equality in cricket and particularly investing in the growth of cricket as a sport for women and girls," Hockley said.

"But there's still a gap, there's still a really big gap, as compared to their male counterparts.

"And we want to keep striving to make it a really attractive and credible full-time professional career for our up-and-coming female cricketers."

The pay gap is significant, but the difference between how many games women play each season compared to their male counterparts is also stark.

Women contracted at a state level but not in the WBBL play a maximum of just eight games a season, plus finals, in the 50-over Women's National Cricket League.

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In comparison, state-contracted men's players could play up to 10 Sheffield Shield games plus seven one-day games each year, plus finals, which equates to 47 days of cricket compared to just eight days for the women.

There is parity at Big Bash level, with both competitions featuring 14 matches per team, plus finals.

Australia's star wicketkeeper-batter Alyssa Healy explained last year that despite only playing a handful of games each year, domestic women's players feel pressure to maintain a high standard of professionalism that does not match their income

"Domestic female players are experiencing increased pressure to train 'over and above' their contractual obligations; many training for nine months of the year for a handful of WNCL and WBBL games," Healy wrote in the Nine newspapers.

"With such expectation and increased demands from state associations and WBBL clubs, there is limited opportunity for many of our female domestic cricketers to build a second career outside of cricket. An increase in demand has not been matched with appropriate remuneration."

Healy added that equality is about playing more cricket as much as it is getting paid appropriately for it.

"Domestic female players want to be the best cricketers they can be, they want to invest in their sporting career," she wrote. "They want to play more games and be the best version of themselves."

Domestic contracts are in addition to the select group who are centrally contracted by Cricket Australia each season, with CA contracted women's players earning an average of $180,000 a year, making them the best-paid national women's team in the country.

After today's announcement, the average retainer for a state-contracted women's player has increased by more than 22 per cent to $40,829, while the average for a WBBL player is now $24,179, up more than 14 per cent.

Of the 98 women's players with a state contract this season – not including those who also hold a more lucrative Cricket Australia deal – 76 also have a WBBL contract.

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"The ACA has worked closely with Cricket Australia to continue to invest in the women's game – with a focus on the domestic level – at a time when many other sports are having to curtail player payments," ACA CEO, Todd Greenberg said in a statement.

"Investment in women's cricket is fundamental to the growth of the game overall, and we see this as part of an ongoing strategy of continuing to raise the bar for others to follow."

CA and the ACA also announced today an increased investment in player support for this season, including more than $500,000 into wellbeing programmes and help for players to bring family with them on tour, as COVID-19 restrictions continue to be a significant challenge.

"It is likely that people are going to be having to do some quarantine or likely having to live in some managed bio-secure environment (this summer)," Hockley said.

"So we're putting additional investments into player well-being."

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