Australian Cricket’s new five-year strategy, which has a major focus on women, girls and junior cricket, was announced at the Cricket NSW official season launch Thursday.

Cricket NSW Chief Executive Andrew Jones said the new strategy reinforced cricket as the leader in women’s sport on and off the field.

“Making cricket the leading sport for women and girls is a major focus of the Australian Cricket strategy, and part of our DNA in NSW,” Mr Jones said.

“The Lendlease Breakers have won 18 of 21 Women’s National Cricket League titles, having played in all 21 finals since the inception of the competition.

“And Sydney teams have won both Women’s Big Bash League Finals, with the Thunder triumphing in WBBL|01 and the Sixers last season.

“With the generous support of Lendlease, the Breakers became first fully professional domestic women’s sporting team in Australia last October.

“We are delighted that Cricket Australia followed our lead, making women’s domestic cricket fully professional across the country and ensuring that our international players are the best paid female athletes of any team sport in Australia.

“Our top players will now earn in excess of a quarter of a million dollars per year, making cricket the number one choice for all aspiring female athletes in the country. Girls are flooding into the Sixers and Thunder Girls Cricket Leagues across the State, with team numbers expected to double again this year, for the fourth year in a row, to over 300.

“The strength of NSW at the elite level is reflected at the grass roots, with almost 400,000 participants of all ages last season, the most of any state. A quarter of them are women and girls.

“The new Australian Cricket strategy is focused on delivering the best participation experiences to men, women, boys and girls at all levels, especially in junior cricket.

“This means that in conjunction with Cricket Australia, Government at all levels and our commercial partners, Cricket NSW continues to invest in facilities across the state to meet the influx of women and girls taking up cricket, as well as to cater for the growth of the men’s and women’s BBL.

“NSW was the major contributor to more than 1.4 million men and women, boys and girls taking part nationwide, reinforcing cricket as Australia’s favourite sport.”