For many people, 5 July 2022 will go down as ‘just another Tuesday’.
For those in the cricket world, however, it shall go down as anything but.
In a landmark agreement, dubbed the ‘New Deal’, struck between New Zealand Cricket (NZC), the six Major Associations, and the New Zealand Cricket Players Association, all women’s and men’s cricketers will be paid the same match fees at international and domestic level.
Make absolutely no mistake. This agreement from NZC and associates will go down as a watershed moment in the history of cricket; as a tentative, but very necessary, first step towards real gender equality in the game of cricket.
NZC certainly recognise this to be the case:
"This is the most important agreement in our sport," NZC chief David White said.
"It's a massive step forward and will be a huge drawcard for young women and girls."
That’s not it, either. The agreement also sees the number of women's domestic contracts increase from 54 to 72, which has been wholeheartedly welcomed by White Ferns captain Sophie Devine:
"It's great for the international and domestic women players to be recognised in the same agreement, alongside the men.“
There has been much dialogue in recent years about gender discrepancies within sport, in cricket and beyond.
Less opportunity. Less exposure. Lower wages. These are just some of the issues women have to deal with in (professional sport).
While nullifying the gender pay gap doesn’t fix all of these things, it is most certainly a step in the right direction.
This is a somewhat rare example of a cricket board turning rhetoric into action.
You can speak all you want about commitments to gender equality, but doing something about is an altogether different equation.
In this sense, NZC are quite literally putting their money where their mouth is.
Money, in the end, makes the world go round, and economic equality is one of, if not the most important factors as we strive for gender equality.
While this step from the NZC should, quite rightly, be lauded, this *must* be merely the beginning.
Male players will still earn higher retainers because they play more matches and formats as well as training more.
There is therefore much more work to do; with this announcement acting as a solid foundation from which to launch more work, and more initiatives, to help eliminate the gender gap.
Not to mention the relatively isolated nature of this incident. There are many more sports with even more significant gender gaps, the likes of which would do well to follow New Zealands lead.
It is also absolutely vital that this agreement acts as a guiding light for other cricket boards around the world.
Given the relative financial firepower of NZC, you would have to hope that it is now a question of when, not if, others follow suit and pay men and women the same amount for the same work.
Even in economically uncertain times, New Zealand has shown positive action is possible.
It is now down to the likes of the England Cricket Board, Board for the Control of Cricket in India and Cricket Australia to follow their lead, and show their commitment to equality in cricket is as robust as their press offices say it is.
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