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Kate Cross says English cricket can 'level playing field' for women's domestic game in restructure

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Kate Cross says English cricket can 'level playing field' for women's domestic game in restructure

England bowler Kate Cross says the lack of equal access to facilities and staff for women's cricketers is a "real concern" and believes an upcoming restructure offers an opportunity to "level the playing field".

New plans to remodel the professional game will be put in place soon, with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) set to announce eight successful tier-one counties this month which will see current regional sides being replaced with teams embedded within the first-class county system.

Sixteen counties have submitted a proposal to own a professional tier-one team.

Individual player research conducted by the Professional Cricketers' Association (PCA) found that out of 10 indicators of equity, 84 per cent of players selected equal minimum salaries, equal access to facilities or equal average pay as their No 1 priority.

Some measures have been verbally agreed following negotiations between the PCA and ECB, including minimum squad sizes of 15 professional players and equal minimum wages with the men's game.

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England PCA representative and North West Thunder bowler Cross believes that while the restructure is an "exciting time", the lack of equal access to facilities and support staff is a worry across women's cricket.

"It is such an exciting time to be part of this movement and this restructure provides an opportunity to secure the future of women's cricket at all levels," Cross said.

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"This comes with its challenges and as a group of players we do feel a sense of responsibility to ensure we are looking after the next generation of professionals. The creation and regulation of minimum standards alongside aspirational thinking is paramount.

"We are fortunate at Thunder to have a strong set-up and close links with the Lancashire men's team but this isn't the case for all. Equal access to facilities and support staff across women's cricket is a real concern and always has been.

"While we are very pleased with progress over recent years, it's not a time to be complacent, it's an opportunity to reset expectations and level the playing field as we move into the new era for English cricket."

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Keaton Jennings, captain of Lancashire's men's side, also added that "standards need to be improved" to give female cricketers "the best possible chance" for success.

"Creating equity in team sports is particularly complex and it is very pleasing to see this movement taking place," he said.

"Growing the women's game will progress the development of our sport as a whole.

"We all have a responsibility to support this so cricket provides equal opportunities for boys and girls to become the next generation of professional players. To do this, standards need to be improved to give our women's cricketers the best possible chance to succeed."

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