The Women’s Premier League (WPL) in India is another defining moment for women’s cricket.
Last week’s WPL auction, where five franchises entered with more than AUD$2 million each to spend on players, demonstrated the sizeable impact that Australian cricket has had on the women’s game.
The Gujarat Giants invested more money in Australians than they did Indians, including AUD$558,000 with Ashleigh Gardiner and AUD$350,000 with Beth Mooney. Outside of their countrywomen, all other teams, bar one, invested more in Australian women than any other nation. Only one team (the Mumbai Indians) does not have multiple Australians on its list.
All up, 14 Australians were picked up and will earn close to AUD$2.5 million for the three-week tournament next month. Nine of these players have deals exceeding $100,000.
It is further evidence – if any was required – that Australian women’s cricket is ascendant. Our female players are unambiguously the best in the world, dominating international tournaments and drawing record-breaking audiences, home and abroad.
The growth and success of women’s cricket in the past few years is a credit to our talented players and the investment and commitment made by Australian cricket.
A pivotal moment for this investment occurred in 2017 when the ACA advocated for one MOU agreement for all male and female players for the first time in Australian cricket. An agreement that included a gender equity-pay model and revenue sharing, ensuring all players - male and female would be partners in the game of cricket. This included one of the biggest pay rises in the history of women's sport in Australia. This ground-breaking deal acknowledged the growing value of women’s cricket and set our female players on a path to full professionalism.
The WPL is a significant rock tossed into the women’s cricket pool, and the ripples will be felt far beyond the sub-continent. If this is managed properly, it should accelerate the evolution of women’s cricket here in Australia.
As part of negotiations towards a new MOU, the ACA remains optimistic of achieving significant progress across all levels of the professional women’s game including uplifts in the WBBL to ensure that what has long been the preeminent women’s T20 competition provides globally competitive remuneration.
While the WBBL contracting model is clearly a priority, maintaining the primacy of international cricket is also an important objective for both CA and the ACA.
But ahead of all of this is the simple need to contractually recognise our world-leading Australian female players as full-time athletes. They have long had a full-time mindset with commensurate commitment, yet they are still contracted as 0.85 full-time equivalent. This must be rectified as part of the current MOU negotiations.
It is imperative that we also transition our Domestic female players toward full-time professionalism to support our thriving domestic competitions and cultivate elite players. The semi-professional nature of Domestic women’s cricket is challenging for our players. Nearly two-thirds of all female players work outside of cricket in order to supplement their income. This can impact a player’s capacity to train and play due to the mental load of balancing employment, studying, and playing.
While acknowledging that Indian cricket works on a different, much larger economic scale, that the WPL can attract AUD$811 million for five franchises and approximately AUD$167 in broadcast rights, demonstrates that women’s cricket has well and truly arrived on the international stage in its own right.
It is further evidence – if any was required – that Australian women’s cricket is ascendant. Our female players are unambiguously the best in the world, dominating international tournaments and drawing record-breaking audiences, home and abroad.Todd Greenberg
While women’s cricket leads Australian sport on any number of levels, a moment such as the incredible investment around the WPL should sharpen our focus that there remain many opportunities yet to be embraced – opportunities that will further build on the already impressive levels of revenue, fan engagement, and brand value that have established cricket as Australia’s preeminent sport for women and girls.
For these opportunities to be realised we must honestly and transparently report on progress – and in particular, those barriers that still stand in the way of progress. We need to maintain momentum for the women’s game and set aspiration targets that stretch and challenge us to capitalise on the success of the Australian women’s team. one of the most successful sporting teams ever
Now is the time to cement our place in history by creating a legacy for our female cricketers and the professionalism of women’s sport across Australia.