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Cricket’s parental leave to extend careers

By AAP Newswire

Australia's world champion women's cricketers will be able to extend their careers longer with a new parental leave policy, according to star wicketkeeper Alyssa Healy.

Healy claimed the new policy, announced Friday, would stop pregnancy being treated like an injury in the women's game and allow players to have a better balance.

Organised by Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association, players will be given 12 months paid maternity and adoption leave.

They'll also have a guaranteed new contract the following year and a transition into a non-playing role while pregnant.

"It's a game changer. It's definitely going to extend careers and keep players in the game for longer," Healy told AAP.

"I always thought that being a female athlete and wanting kids you retire by 30 and then you started life.

"It (cricket) was almost like a hobby. Now it's normalising being an elite athlete as a career and you can also have a family alongside it."

Under the scheme, mothers will be able to return to play once given medical clearance with children's flights, accommodation and care paid for on tour up until age four.

Grounds will also have breastfeeding spaces, while crucially the deal extends down into state and Big Bash cricket.

Male players will also have three weeks of full-pay paternity leave, while their children will be given the same on-tour benefits if they are the primary carers.

It comes after female players in the past had to give up the sport when they gave birth, with Victorian Sarah Elliott the only mother to have played for Australia this decade.

"It was seen as an injury," Healy said.

"With the previous policy that was in place and it was treated like an injury. You were 'managed' is how you would put it.

"To see where it's got to means so much for my generation and the next generation coming through."

Both CA and the ACA lauded the deal as a new pinnacle in sport for playing parents.

"There shouldn't be a female player who needs to retire to have a family. They should be able to do both together," ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson said.

"If you spend all that time developing skills you don't want that to end."

Meanwhile, CA high performance chief Drew Ginn said he expected the initiative to improve players' careers.

"The young girls who come through the system won't need to feel pressure of 'Am I just an athlete or am I valued because I bring so much more?'," Ginn said.

"Players always perform better when they have balance."