Less than twenty years ago, women cricketers not only played for nothing, they had to fund their own travel and accommodation. More than that, there are stories of women even having to sow their representative badge onto their cricket whites themselves.
Were a woman cricketer to become pregnant, it typically signalled the end of their career. The travesty of this is that so many great athletes have not been given the chance to reach their true potential, denying the rest of us the opportunity to enjoy and admire their talent.
For the women who personally funded their own careers in the 1990s – such as Clea Smith, who is now part of the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) team leading the charge for change – the idea of paid parental leave must have seemed unattainable.
But today this idea becomes material when Cricket Australia and the ACA launch a landmark Players Parental Leave Policy.
It is a vitally important policy – one that is part of a broader story worth telling because of the messages it sends.
To the sporting world, it says Australian cricket is the most progressive in the world.
For Australia’s cricket players and administrators, it again demonstrates what can be achieved through a partnership revenue sharing model as the basis for a partnership with the sport’s administrators.
Most importantly, these provisions help assure Australian women that cricket is a sport which can now support you and your family should you aspire to the elite level. That is life changing.
The policy also provides players with three-weeks paid leave to be taken at time of birth or in first 12 months, making it easier for male players to help and support their partners than it has been in the past.
Prior to this both male and female players were not included from cricket’s parental leave policy for matters associated only with convention.
Along with the amendments to cricket’s policies regarding notification of pregnancies to the employer these latest changes modernise the contracting relationship for women playing cricket.
This landmark policy isn’t to say that the issues facing female cricket are settled, because they’re not. What it does mean, however, is that cricket is taking important steps in getting it right, and that’s something to celebrate.
This policy is funded by the players for the players, and also for the future of the game.
There is an old adage that says “if there is no struggle, there is no progress”. While much of the 2017 cricket pay dispute was defined in an acrimonious context, what should be never be forgotten is that this negotiation was the moment when women cricketers came into the collective agreement and became entitled to a share of the revenue they were actually generating.
The announcement of the Players Parental Leave Policy further demonstrates the partnership between Cricket Australia and the ACA continues to support great steps forward for the game.
Cricket in Australia is making wonderful history at the moment, quiet as it may be.