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Australia's female cricketers reaping benefits of new pay deal

Elyse Villani sets off for a run against Pakistan
Elyse Villani says it's hard to believe women's cricket has come so far recently.

Reuters: Lee Smith/Action Images

It was hailed as the biggest pay rise in the history of women's sport in Australia.

And now our female cricketers are starting to reap the benefits, with national players Nicole Bolton and Elyse Villani among the first to sign multi-year contracts, securing their futures on and off the field.

Villani was living at home with her parents to save on rent and working odd jobs just so that she could keep playing cricket.

"Eight years ago, I was 18 and my first [state] contract didn't have a dollar amount against it, so we were just playing for the love of it," she said

Now she's not only playing for love, but for a living as a fully fledged professional cricketer.

Bolton has signed with the Perth Scorchers in the Women's Big Bash League for four years, and Villani for three years.

Villani said it is hard to believe cricket has come so far, so quickly.

"It's just amazing to have the financial security that we have now," she said.

"A few years ago, it was probably like how long can I do this before I find a career, really start to earn some money, make a living, think about buying a house, settling down and stuff like that.

"I think the biggest shift is now that there is no time bomb to the end of your cricketing career purely because of financial reasons," she said.

Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton standing in front of the WACA scoreboard.
Elyse Villani and Nicole Bolton (l-r) are among the first players to sign multi-year contracts.

ABC News: Marcus Alborn

The pay deal marked a new era for the women's game.

Total female player payments have increased from $7.5 million to $55.2 million.

The minimum retainer for an Australian representative was just $40,000 at the start of this year.

With the completion of the new agreement, that's grown more than 80 per cent, to $72,076.

It'll increase further to $87,609 thousand by the end of the deal in 2022.

Bolton said cricket can now be a full-time profession for women.

"As the expectations were rising with the training, it became harder and harder to find the time just to chill out.

"Now they can be in a position where they can do this as a profession and I think it is a massive step forward."

And perhaps most importantly there is now a genuine career pathway for young girls playing the sport.