SYDNEY: Top Australian women cricketers could earn more than A$1 million ($666,600) a year with increases from a new pay deal topped up by cash earned in India’s Women’s Premier League and The Hundred in England, Cricket Australia (CA) said on Monday. The five-year deal includes a headline funding increase of 66% for the women with a player who holds a top tier contract and also plays in the Women’s Big Bash League now able to earn A$800,000 a year. “I am particularly pleased this (deal) represents another major step forward in the rise of women’s cricket,” CA chief executive Nick Hockley said in a news release. “Cricket now clearly offers the best earning opportunities of any team sport for elite female sportspeople.” The Memorandum of Understanding, agreed between CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), also included an increase of 25% in the minimum and average CA contracts for women. The contracts and retainers will be guaranteed while players are on parental leave and further payments will be offered to help make up for lost match fees. For the men, the number of central contracts has increased from up to 20 to up to 24 every year to take into account the number of players required for international matches across the three formats. The proliferation of lucrative Twenty20 tournaments around the world was acknowledged in an increase from A$2m to A$3m in the payment pool for Australia’s Big Bash League (BBL). “We have recognised the need to ensure that the BBL remains highly competitive in a changing global cricket landscape and we’re confident this agreement will help maintain its place at the heart of the Australian summer,” Hockley added. Hockley also mentioned the “constructive spirit of partnership” under which talks were conducted with the ACA, a stark contrast with acrimonious negotiations for the last deal in 2017. Then, CA was forced to back down on an attempt to end the revenue sharing model that had underpinned the agreement with the players for two decades. That model has been kept in place for the next five years, with players sharing a total of A$634m over the period of the deal with another pool of A$57 million to fund performance-related pay.