NSW women's cricketers go professional
Photo Source: AAP
The NSW women's cricket team has smashed through the glass ceiling to become the first fully professional female team in Australian domestic sport.
In a major breakthrough, all Breakers squad members will be on full-time contracts, with international players potentially earning more than $100,000 per year. The minimum wage will be $35,000.
While rivals sports such as Australian Rules and Netball have made great strides in raising the profile of women's sport in recent times, Wednesday's Cricket NSW announcement marks a major milestone in gender equality in Australian sport.
"I played for the Breakers with my twin sister Kate and we were young, playing at 18 or 19 for the first time in this team, and watching the Waugh brothers, heroes of ours," Breakers captain Alex Blackwell said.
"They would be leaving the SCG from Blues training at about 5.30 and Kate and I would be just arriving at training at 6.00.
"We used to discuss how amazing it would be if we could train during daylight on turf wickets like we play on the weekend. We talked about that and we said it wouldn't happen in our lifetime."
Blackwell has been a trailblazer during her 15-year career and is believed to be the first player who was able to devote herself to her sport ahead of work.
Back in 2007 she was faced with the decision to either give up her sport or pursue a career in medicine.
She was able to eek out a living off her Australian and NSW payments and now her domestic teammates will be able to do the same.
"A couple of years ago I was burning the candle at both ends like most amateur athletes do, particularly women athletes," Blackwell said.
"I was working, captaining NSW, captaining NSW Country, vice captain of the Australian team, being pulled in all sorts of directions. I got to the point where something was going to have to give."
She called it a big step for female cricketers to receive pay equal to their male counterparts.
Cricket NSW was able to lift the financial benefit for women's cricketers after securing increased sponsorship from building and construction company Lendlease.
The Breakers domestic squad's salaries will almost double, with NSW cricket chief executive Andrew Jones describing it as a landmark moment for gender equality in Australian sport.
It follows on from Cricket Australia in April increasing total payments for domestic and international players from $2.36 million to $4.23 million.
Australian-contracted female players earn a minimum $80,000 plus match fees.
Australian women's cricket is booming with the Women's Big Bash drawing a national average audience of 216,000 - more than the A-League.