Australia women's captain Meg Lanning has declared why her team is staying united with male players in the current pay impasse with Cricket Australia (CA), despite the board's offer of massive pay increases for both international and domestic females in their current MoU offer.
Ahead of the team's departure for a World Cup campaign which will end after the June 30 expiry of the existing pay deal, Lanning said that Australia's female players shared the view that a fair deal for all cricketers was key to the resolution of the dispute, even if pay rises for her group sounded attractive at face value. Women have not previously been included in the MoU, and have been paid separately by CA.
CA's proposal features average increases of A$79,000 to $179,000 for centrally-contracted female players, with average pay for domestic female cricketers to rise from $22,000 to $52,000. However, only international players - both male and female - have been offered any of the game's blue sky above fixed rates of pay, rather than the fixed revenue percentage that has been at the core of agreements between CA and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) for two decades. Lanning said the players had no desire to be divided along these lines.
"All the players are behind a revenue share model for all cricketers, and we've been able to stay really strong and we'll continue to do that and hopefully there's a resolution pretty soon," Lanning said. "I think CA and the ACA are talking at the moment, so as players we just want to play cricket and we've left the rest of that to the ACA and CA. We're looking forward to getting to the World Cup and playing, and we'll leave it to the ACA to negotiate on our behalf.
"[Pay rises are] certainly a step in the right direction, but it's a whole player [group] agreement and we're fully behind all players, male, female, state, international so that's where we're at. It's about every player playing the game and grassroots as well. We're not going to individualise any players or teams, male or female, it's about all the players moving forward and getting a result that's good for the game.
"At the start, we came out with what we wanted and where we wanted to go and we're pretty clear on that."
Lanning's squad is due to depart for England at the end of the week, and all players have been handed short-term contracts for the duration of the tournament in acknowledgement of the fact it will conclude after the MoU deadline. While admitting the dispute was a topic of frequent conversation, Lanning insisted the players would forge on with clear minds when they begin their campaign to defend the title won in India four years ago.
"It's definitely been spoken about, it's not something you can hide away from," she said. "But as a squad once we get over to the UK we're very keen on just playing cricket and our job and priority is to go over there, play really good cricket and win games. We won't be distracted by it at all, everything's in place contract-wise, so we're just going to focus on playing and winning games."
These words arrived at a time when members of CA and the ACA negotiating teams have resumed talks after some weeks. Knowing this, the players were perplexed to be sent another package of graphics and video from the board's lead negotiator Kevin Roberts on Wednesday, in which the fixed revenue percentage model was again challenged.
"The latest attempt by Cricket Australia to directly communicate with Australia's cricketers has undermined current behind the scenes efforts to break the impasse for a new Cricket MoU," the ACA said in a statement. "It is also a mischaracterisation of the true position regarding grassroots investment which every Australian male and female cricketer is passionate about.
"The video comes a day after productive talks for a 'without prejudice' process for attempting to rebuild trust and break the current impasse. [It] is another attempt to directly communicate with players who have asked for the last 6 months to be left alone to concentrate on cricket. As has been the case with CA throughout the negotiation it is 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. This latest effort exposes what the ACA have been dealing with."
One member of the Australian squad particularly eager to get on the field will be allrounder Ellyse Perry, who had the latter part of her Australian summer curtailed by a hamstring injury suffered during the WBBL. Despite a lack of recent cricket apart from training, Lanning was confident Perry would be able to deliver her best in England.
"She's 100% fit, it was a pretty major injury she sustained in the WBBL, so she's had some time to get over that and she's been in full training now with the squad," Lanning said. "She's a very key member of our team, an important player for us, and looking forward to having her back on the park."