Women's deal 'just a starting point'

Amy Satterthwaite
Amy Satterthwaite
Players have hailed the women's master agreement as an historic step forward for the game in New Zealand.

But now the challenge will be finding enough players in Otago to take up the deal.

New Zealand Cricket and the New Zealand Cricket Players Association [NZCPA] have, in principle, reached an agreement which will see the number of contracted players swell from 15 to 79.

Under the terms of the three-year agreement, the number of White Ferns contracts has increased from 15 to 17 and their value has gone up.

A new tier of central contracting has been introduced for development players. And, for the first time, domestic players will be paid by their major associations.

Mike Coggan.
Mike Coggan.
White Ferns captain Amy Satterthwaite and former captain Suzie Bates said the agreement was a major breakthrough for women's cricket in New Zealand.

''I know people tend to focus on the White Ferns' contracts, but the investment in domestic and developing players is an important step forward for women's cricket in New Zealand,'' Satterthwaite said.

''This is an agreement that recognises the need to grow the game at grassroots and domestic level in order to produce White Ferns who excel on the world stage.''

Bates agreed.

''From what I can see, it provides a great framework and starting point for the eventual semi-professionalisation of the women's domestic game in New Zealand - and that's probably the most important point in the entire agreement.''

The agreement will replace the former memorandum of understanding which expired on July 31.

NZCPA chief executive Heath Mills was delighted with the outcome.

''Providing a framework for 79 players to be part of the game's high-performance system is a major development that, quite apart from anything else, reflects a genuine appetite to grow the women's game here in New Zealand.''

Otago Cricket Association chief executive Mike Coggan also described the agreement as a leap forward.

''However, it also means we have to think really carefully about what it means for young cricketers living across our region and how their commitment changes,'' Coggan said.

''It has been a fully amateur game until now and players have not always been available to train to the level of expectation of the men.

''But under the contract the players are expected to be available for both [domestic competitions] and to prepare and train accordingly. That is going to be interesting because we have not always had players in a position to do that through other commitments.

''But it is exciting and the most important thing is it gives young female players an aspirational pathway.''

The money on offer is more at the level of compensation and will not properly address some of the issues faced by players trying to juggle work and a sporting career.

Each association can contract up to nine players on $3250 each. That sum may cover expenses for the players based in Dunedin.

It is not enough to give up your day job or cover the expenses for those players who would have to travel from further afield.

Those players have tended to skip the regular team training sessions.

''NZC will be looking at providing greater support in the future. This is just a starting point,'' Coggan said.

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