SYDNEY: Cricket is poised to become the first sport in Australia to break the six-figure wage mark for the vast majority of its domestic female athletes, with players on state and WBBL contracts to earn an average of AU$151,000 from next season. Cricket Australia and the players’ union are closing in on finalising the sport’s new pay deal, with a Memorandum of Understanding likely to be announced as soon as early this week. Final details are still being sorted, through a negotiation that has been largely amicable and headed by Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley and union counterpart Todd Greenberg. Sources from both sides have confirmed talks have been far removed from the dramas of the pay war of 2017, which resulted in an abandoned tour and threats of strikes. The big winners of the deal will be domestic female cricketers. AAP has been told that the lowest-paid players with state and Women’s Big Bash League contracts will earn AU$83,000, with state squad sizes to increase from 14 to 16 across each of the seven WNCL sides. Players will also continue earn match fees for WNCL matches beyond their salary, meaning a significant portion of those on a minimum salary will earn more than AU$100,000 in 2023-24. Ultimately, the deal will take the average salary to AU$123,000 and AU$151,000 after match fees. In comparison, players with a minimum WNCL and WBBL contract last year who received full match payments were paid AU$70,000. The deal will rocket cricket well above other women’s sports, with its nearest competitor being Super Netball where the minimum salary is AU$43,000 with no additional match payments. The AFLW minimum wage sits at close to AU$40,000, while NRLW is AU$30,000 and A-League women’s is AU$25,000. It’s also believed that contract values will significantly increase in the WBBL for overseas and Australia’s centrally contracted stars in a bid to keep the league competitive with England’s Hundred and other franchise tournaments. Organisers are hopeful the pay rise will be able to continue to attract the best overseas talent to Australia, for a tournament that was once unrivalled as the stand out in global women’s cricket. The deal will also mean Australia’s centrally contracted players have the potential to earn close to AU$1 million a season, when factoring in national deals and big-money offers from the WPL.