“The WBBL has has had a fantastic standalone season this season,” he said. “We were really pleased with how that went. It’s just great to be able to show the women’s game the respect it has rightly earned over the last 145 years.
“We were always hopeful that this tournament would act as a springboard for women’s cricket and men’s cricket going forward. Based on the really high-level of interest in it, we are optimistic that it is going to do that. Our intention is for it to remain a standalone.”
This year’s tournament was deemed a success by all parties, with free-to-air ratings enjoying a considerable leap although attendances – as expected – were down.
Injured superstar all-rounder Ellyse Perry has said she looks forward to the day when the WBBL “supports itself” through revenue, including a significant broadcast deal.
Australia captain Meg Lanning said the transformation in the women’s game had been dramatic.
“It is incredible how much it has changed, just opportunities to get involved in the game,” she said. “As a young girl coming through, to see your heroes on TV, that has probably been the biggest shift – this is your opportunity.”
Pop singer Katy Perry will perform before and after Sunday’s final and she, no doubt, has added to the interest on the day, but it’s the cricket that will be centre stage for the majority of the crowd. A packed MCG will show how far elite women’s sport has come over the past decade.
“We feel this is huge for women and girls more broadly,” Roberts said. “Cricket takes centre stage but it is actually bigger than a cricket match and bigger than a sporting event. It’s what it means for women and girls the world over on the path to gender equality. It’s just brilliant that the sport we love can play some sort of role on that path.”
CA’s commitment to parity has been shown by elevating the prizemoney on offer for the Australians, ensuring the women receive as much as the men.
The International Cricket Council had increased the prizemoney pool at the World Cup by 320 per cent on the 2018 tournament, meaning the winners received $US1 million ($1.5m), with the runners up to take home $US500,000 ($753,300) – but those figures still fall short of what the men receive. As a result, should Australia win, CA will add a further $US600,000 ($904,000) to ensure parity, guaranteeing a healthy pay day for the 15 players who had been a part of the squad.
“Great credit to the ICC for significantly increasing that from the last women’s tournament and we are topping that up in the event the Australian team wins. We are closing that gap just as we do by having equal prizemoney in the BBL and the WBBL,” Roberts said.
Under the Memorandum of Understanding brokered between the Australian Cricketers’ Association and CA in 2017. all Australian players receive the same base pay rate, regardless of gender. Payments for elite female cricketers jumped from $7.5 million over the previous five-year period to $55 million over the current term, expiring in 2023.
The women could be in for a pay rise come the next round of negotiations considering the amount of international cricket they are playing. Former Australian captain Lisa Sthalekar has raised fears that this is contributing to more injuries.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.