Clear lines have been drawn for appropriate conduct among players and staff ahead of the seventh edition of the WBBL, after top-level talks between Cricket Australia and the players’ union this year.
As Australian soccer reels from painful allegations about team environments, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald can reveal discussions between cricket authorities to remove any grey areas in behavioural expectations from the world’s foremost women’s domestic league after last year’s COVID-19 affected tournament.
CA chief executive Nick Hockley and his Australian Cricketers’ Association counterpart Todd Greenberg have led a process to better outline appropriate conduct and relationships within the WBBL hubs for this season, not only to ensure the health and wellbeing of players and staff but also to maintain cricket’s place as a sport of choice for female and male players of all ages and levels.
In particular, players and staff of WBBL clubs have been briefed on policy changes that stress appropriate locations for one-on-one meetings within team hotels. The use of common spaces like in-house cafes or restaurants, or the team function room, are now preferred to discussions within individual hotel rooms.
These measures follow player feedback to both CA and the ACA after last season’s collective hub in Sydney. They were being worked on before the recent revelation that a WBBL and pathways coach had been dismissed this year, after sharing what Cricket Victoria deemed inappropriate, confidential information with a player.
The new rules were devised, in part, to ensure there are no problems of perception in terms of senior figures entering the private rooms of players: while the discussion itself may be entirely appropriate, the power imbalance could lead to questions being asked by others.
“Historically, being a sport of choice has been seen through remuneration, which is always clearly very important when young athletes, male or female, are making their choice,” Greenberg told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. “But we’ve seen what’s also really important are other things like maintaining the right environment.
“That’s so important when you get impressionable young athletes into your pathways and systems. How do you give them the best support measures? How do you put them in the right environments, not only to shine as great cricketers, but to develop as people?”
Hockley, who forged a path for CA through last year’s first COVID-affected season, said the measures were part of nearly $2 million in additional funds for the women’s game, spread across increased contracts, wellbeing support, and money to allow partners and dependents to travel with players.