Australian women cricketers offered huge pay increase
A new Cricket Australia proposal could see the country's top women's players average almost $NZ200,000 a year - nearly $170,000 more than their Kiwi counterparts.
The organisation says "a ground-breaking remuneration and benefits proposal" will offer women the opportunity to have a fully professional sporting career at international and domestic levels.
"Under the proposal, women will receive an immediate average pay increase of more than 125 per cent," said Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland.
"As a result, our international women cricketers will see their average pay increase from $A79,000 to $A179,000 ($NZ195,000) as of July 1 this year. By 2021, we expect to see our international women cricketers earning an average of $A210,000."
Cricket Australia is proposing increased pay for all players, with Sutherland pointing out that those men who represented Australia on the international stage would see their average yearly retainer increase to $A816,000 with by 2021/22.
New Zealand's top women's players received a 100 per cent pay rise in their basic pay last year, with the three-year deal with New Zealand Cricket seeing 15 White Ferns earn from $20,000 to $34,000 a year - up from $10,000 to $12,000.
With match fees of $400 for one day internationals and $300 for T20 games, leading White Ferns can earn more than $40,000 per annum, not counting prizemoney, fees from playing in overseas leagues, or endorsements.
In contrast, the top-ranked Black Caps male cricketer will earn $205,266 for the 2016-17 season, with match fees at $8495 per test, $3682 per ODI and $2407 for a T20 international.
Black Cap contracts diminish in value by about $7000 from the No 1 ranked player to the bottom-ranked (21st) player, who is on the base rate of $85,585 plus match fees.
Domestic men's players - 15 from each major association - receive retainers for seven-and-a-half months ranging from $52,154 for those ranked No 1, down to $25,829 for those ranked No 15. Match fees are $1595 for four-day Plunket Shield matches, $745 for a 50-over match, and $520 for a T20 game.
However, the new "landmark" Australian deal, based on a new five-year memorandum of understanding (MOU), may face stiff opposition from the Australian Cricketers' Association and many players.
Under the new plan, the average international retainer for Australia's men will rise from $A703,000 to $A816,000, with the expected average income, including Big Bash League payments, to be $A1.45 million by 2022. This year international stars Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc will already pocket more than $A2 million when their tour and match fees, retainers and prizemoney are included.
Domestic cricketers, set to enjoy an 18 per cent pay rise, will have their average retainers jump from $A199,000 to $A235,000 by 2022.
Sutherland said the MOU, with women included for the first time, had "gender equity at its heart".
"Under this offer, we will achieve gender equity by ensuring that the minimum and average hourly pay will be the same for state men and women in 2017/18. In addition, match fees for the WNCL and the Matador Cup will be exactly the same: a one-day game for a state cricketer is worth the same to both men and women.
"We are also introducing, for the first time, prizemoney for the WNCL of $258,000 and the WBBL of $309,000 this coming summer."
CA's initial submission had insisted domestic male cricketers - those playing in the Sheffield Shield - would no longer share in the percentage revenue model embraced by both parties since 1997, but the game's governing body says it has changed its narrative, claiming those players will still share in the revenue model – but a particular percentage won't be locked in.
In its initial submission, CA said state men's retainers have grown by more than 50 per cent in the past four years, averaging $234,000 this season, and this could not be sustained.
Players had received between 24 and 26 per cent of revenue under the current expiring deal.
"We have placed the emphasis on increasing the guaranteed amount that the men will receive, rather than rely on any projected increase in revenue," Sutherland said.
"We understand that the ACA prefers the status quo, but CA believes that the model devised in the 1990s, which is based on a fixed percentage of revenue, has served its intended purpose – to make Australia's cricketers some of the best paid sportspeople in the country.
"It was a means to an end, not something that has to hold us back from providing players with financial certainty, a fair deal for all players including women, and the flexibility to invest in the grassroots of the game."
Discussions between the ACA and CA - when they have gone ahead - have been tense, with the players unhappy CA had not disclosed its entire revenue.
"This is a landmark agreement. We are now looking forward to sitting down with the ACA to work through the details and we are confident we will be able to announce a completed agreement before June 30," Sutherland said.
Players have been fighting hard to ensure state cricketers remained part of the percentage scheme, with star Australian batsman and ACA executive member Aaron Finch reiterating that stance on Tuesday before CA's offer was revealed.
"It's worked since 1997, so I don't see why we would go away from that now," he said.
"International players are there because of domestic cricket. At the end of the day, if you don't have a good domestic competition, you are not going to be strong at the top end of international cricket."
Asked what action the players would be prepared to take should their hopes not be met, Finch replied: "That's a good question ... that (domestic players) is probably the biggest issue of the MOU so far, from our side of it, and the women's MOU is also very high on the priority list."
The current MOU expires on June 30.
If CA and the ACA do not come to an agreement before these events, players could go on a series-by-series contract, or even consider a boycott.