Women cricketers will be the biggest beneficiaries of the new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Cricket South Africa (CSA) and the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA), which is due to be signed imminently following a delay of more than two-and-a-half months. The agreement, which regulates the relationship between the game's governing body and its player union, is set to be the most detailed one of its kind and includes the women's contracted players in the revenue-sharing model for the first time. The MoU will be signed in the coming days and will remain in place for the next four years.
Women cricketers will also enjoy the same benefits as their male counterparts, including retirement and medical cover, as CSA takes steps towards gender pay parity. "We have increased women's salaries, we've increased the number of contracted players in the squad [and] we have given them a permanent assistant coach. They have a manager. We are looking at giving the manager an administrator, so it lessens the workload. They travel in business-class, something they have never done before. They have single rooms; they used to share. There's a lot that's changed in the last eight months for these ladies," Thabang Moroe, CSA's new permanent CEO, said.
The South African Cricketers' Association's CEO Tony Irish confirmed the developments, and said the MoU will include "significantly improved benefits," for women's cricketers and that the agreement is finally nearing completion. "The process has experienced significant delays but the key negotiations are completed and we are in the final phase of drafting. The key agreements, which are substantial, have been agreed upon," Irish told ESPNcricinfo.
Cricket South Africa and SACA's MoU expired at the end of April, by which time CSA and SACA had only begun negotiations. They agreed to extend the existing agreement for two months, with a goal to finalise a new MoU at the end of June. Since then, more than two weeks have passed and the deal is yet to be signed. Moroe said it is "99% percent" complete and he expects to sign it in the next few days.
Moroe also dispelled the notion that CSA's relationship with its players had suffered as a result of the comments he made in December last year which suggested the revenue-sharing model could be scrapped.
"There was never a divide between us and the players," Moroe said. "Players that were confused called me to find out what was meant by the quotes that were written in the media. I cleared things out. I had the players' support. Some players came to the office to visit me. Faf [du Plessis] gave me a call. I went to Mumbai and met him before the opening match of the IPL. He reiterated the support I had. It was a matter of making sure there is clarity and that the relationship between us and the union is as professional as it needed to be."
ESPNcricinfo has learnt that CSA initially intended to sideline SACA but the players stood firm in not allowing that to happen. Still, Moroe said CSA have ensured the players understand the hierarchy of how cricket is run in the country, which puts CSA on top. "We wanted to reaffirm our position as the employer. The players' first point of call is us. From then on, should we not reach consensus, the players can go to SACA. Should we not reach consensus with SACA, we have a process put in place for dispute resolution," Moroe said.
Insiders have told ESPNcricinfo that this is not necessarily the case and the players' loss of confidence in CSA after the December statements has yet to be completely resolved.