PCA - 11th April - Women's players seek assurances over equitable future

PCA - 11th April - Women's players seek assurances over equitable future

April 11

PCA research shows female cricketers need clarity over minimum standards as they strive for equity.

The PCA has completed its pre-season meetings with all professional domestic women’s squads this week, with players directing a clear mandate to lobby the game for regulated employment terms across both men’s and women’s professional teams.

With the ECB set to reveal the eight successful Tier 1 counties this month as a restructure of the professional game, current players have been vocal with their Association in their support of the developments, whilst noting their worries and concerns.

With the current regional sides being replaced with teams embedded within the First-Class County system, a number of key advancements have been verbally agreed following negotiations between the PCA and ECB, including minimum squad sizes of 15 professional players and equal minimum wages with the men’s game.

To support data generated from open discussions throughout the meetings, individual player research was gathered to further understand the priorities of the players as the game progresses. Ranking 10 indicators of equity, 84% selected equal minimum salaries, equal access to facilities or equal average pay as their number one priority.

Regarding what success looks like by 2029, which is when the County Partnership Agreement 2.0 ends, only equal average pay and bigger squads were rated higher than counties having a one club, two team ethos, highlighting the importance of female players feeling fully ingrained within their county.

Small breakout groups led by the players and guided by PCA staff saw discussions on the route to parity. Every region viewed equal access to facilities and coaches, as well as a developed pathway to ensure that there is an equal opportunity to play professional cricket, as vital areas of improvement and where the current structure creates huge disparity between the men and women’s professional systems in many areas.

Across the regions, there was an appreciation of the communication by the ECB and their responsiveness to player priorities in recent years, having acted upon information fed through to the governing body from the 2023 PCA pre-season meetings, as well as PCA Player Summits and working groups.

With 16 counties submitting a proposal to own a professional Tier 1 team, a number of key advancements are set to follow, however, the regulation of these standards was viewed as a priority for players.

The meetings started with a visit to Thunder on 1 March and concluded by the PCA hosting a session at Trent Bridge with The Blaze on Monday 8 April. Each session included a mixture of full squad and smaller group discussions on the future of the female game.

Taking into account recommendations of the Independent Commission of Equity in Cricket Report and the progressive work carried out by the game in recent years, open discussions created healthy debate over priorities to increase the professionalism of women’s cricket to remove barriers and create a fully inclusive sport.

The PCA also updated players with a number of topics that matter to them, including the PCA’s priorities for 2024, an update on The Hundred and a discussion on collective rights. Insurance payment scenarios were also highlighted with each meeting finishing on PCA news, date for the cinch PCA Awards and guidance from the PCA’s Financial Wellbeing Partner, Brooks Macdonald.

PCA will further analyse all the data gathered at meetings and present to the ECB as the game works together to close the equity gap and build on recommendations of the ICEC and the work that has been in progress since 2019.

PCA Director of Player Rights and Women’s Cricket, Emma Reid, said: “Pre-season is a crucial time both for players and the PCA to understand priorities for the year ahead.

“It was encouraging to see key player objectives from last year included in the tender document for owning a Tier 1 team and following through to turn these advancements into reality is the next goal.

“There is a real consensus from players that equal access to facilities and coaches is not a ‘nice to have’, but an expectation as we strive for a fully professional, equitable game. There was a clear view on the importance of the counties adopting a one club, two team ethos with all decisions relating to their professional cricket structures considered equitably through both a male and female lens.

“At times, our female members have reported feeling like they are visitors within the professional cricket ecosystem and that has to change. We are confident that by working closely with the ECB and the successful counties that the player voice will continue to be heard and acted upon to support the game’s ambition to be England and Wales most inclusive team sport.”

Southern Vipers captain and 2023 PCA Women’s Domestic Overall MVP, Georgia Adams, said: “Moving into the county structure will be a gamechanger for women’s cricket and we have to ensure the game is ambitious and held accountable to new standards that need to be met on the road to equity.

“Being part of the PCA meetings over recent years, it has been rewarding to see our views voiced in a way that has brought significant change. The importance of the collective representation has been vital and this needs to continue.

“As a group of players, we are understanding of the speed of change and potential teething problems along the way, however, the game needs to continue to collaborate and a high bar of minimum standards introduced and policed to protect the future of the game.”

England Women’s PCA rep and Thunder bowler, Kate Cross, said: “It is such an exciting time to be part of this movement and this restructure provides an opportunity to secure the future of women’s cricket at all levels.

“This comes with its challenges and as a group of players we do feel a sense of responsibility to ensure we are looking after the next generation of professionals. The creation and regulation of minimum standards alongside aspirational thinking is paramount.

“We are fortunate at Thunder to have a strong setup and close links with the Lancashire Men’s team but this isn’t the case for all, equal access to facilities and support staff across women’s cricket is a real concern and always has been.

“While we are very pleased with progress over recent years, it’s not a time to be complacent, it’s an opportunity to reset expectations and level the playing field as we move into the new era for English cricket.”

Lancashire Men’s captain, Keaton Jennings, said: “The game has evolved rapidly in recent years and I have been proud of how Lancashire, through some progressive commercial partnerships, have been leaders in creating a one club ethos between the men’s and women’s teams.

“Creating equity in team sports is particularly complex and it is very pleasing to see this movement taking place. Growing the women’s game will progress the development of our sport as a whole.

“We all have a responsibility to support this so cricket provides equal opportunities for boys and girls to become the next generation of professional players. To do this, standards need to be improved to give our women’s cricketers the best possible chance to succeed.”