Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo
Cricket Australia will expand the Women's National Cricket League to a full home-and-away season under a new 12-month Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with the Australian Cricketers' Association.
The acrimonious negotiations of 2017 were avoided with CA CEO Nick Hockley and ACA CEO Todd Greenberg working closely together over the last 12 months, including travelling to Pakistan together in March, to deliver a new MoU that sees the 50-over WNCL expanded by four rounds alongside the 14-game WBBL season.
Australia's female domestic players contracted in both the WNCL and WBBL will now earn a base average of AUD$86,000.
Australia are the reigning women's ODI and two-time reigning T20 World Cup champions but there had long been a push for more state cricket.
"Our female players are superb role models and as we continue to focus on increasing the participation of women and girls in cricket, a full home and away WNCL season is a logical step," Hockley said.
CA requested that a 12-month MoU be signed in the short-term due to the impacts of Covid, with another agreement needed to be reached for 2023-24 and beyond. The Australian cricket television broadcast rights, the key pillar in CA's revenue and the players' share, are to be renegotiated in 2024.
"This is an excellent result for Australian cricket and I look forward to working with Todd and the Players' Association for the next long-term MoU," Hockley said. "Despite the impacts of Covid, the MoU has delivered an outcome for players that is beyond expectations.
"We thank all the players for their enormous efforts in such a demanding time. To think that we managed to play every international game and the vast majority of domestic fixtures last season and enjoyed one of the most successful periods in our history is an extraordinary achievement from all involved."
The revenue share model, which was the cause of the rift when the last MoU was being negotiated, remains in place with the players, both men and women, to receive 27.5% of forecast Australian cricket revenue alongside a performance pool of 2.5%. The players' retainers and match payments have been increased by 1% across all playing groups. The ACA has agreed to allocate $4 million to CA to assist in managing the ongoing impacts of Covid.
Greenberg has been firm on the partnership model between the players and CA remaining in place and was pleased with the outcome.
"It has served Australian cricket well in responding to the impacts of Covid, where player payments and benefits self-adjusted as the games' revenues fluctuated, avoiding the challenging re-negotiations faced by other sports," he said.