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Pregnancy issue misrepresented: CA boss

AAP logoAAP 15/12/2016 Rob Forsaith

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has fired back at critics of a controversial pregnancy clause, suggesting the issue has been misrepresented and put players in an unfair position.

CA and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) have started formal talks regarding a new pay deal.

Submissions from both parties were sent to players this week.

The ACA's submission raises concerns about a number of "outdated at best and rather condescending" issues relating to female players.

These include a clause asking cricketers to declare they are not pregnant before they sign a contract, which has been widely criticised in recent days.

Sutherland concedes there might be an "opportunity to develop the wording differently" but has been surprised by the ACA's thoughts on the issue.

"We've had lots of conversations about it with them in recent times to come up with the wording ... that keeps the health and safety of women, and their babies, first and foremost," Sutherland told AAP.

"We've worked through what we both agree is best ... it's a health and safety issue.

"We've got strong and clear alignment around this policy with the ACA.

"The issue is being somewhat misrepresented or misunderstood ... to say we're stopping a pregnant woman from playing or from being able to sign a contract, that's simply not the case."

CA consulted the ACA about the clause in early 2015, before the latest pay rise for female players.

Southern Stars allrounder Grace Harris said she doubted whether she would try to start a family during her cricket career.

"I haven't really been keeping up with that. I guess I'm just going to let the ACA sort that out," Harris said when asked about the clause on Friday.

Sutherland believed it was wrong for Harris and other players to be grilled about such private matters during the Women's Big Bash League.

"I'm sure they would much prefer not to have to answer those questions, and I would respectfully ask that people do stay away from it. Talk to us about it," he said.

"It's disappointing that it is a distraction."

Harris was more forthright on the ACA's push for maternity leave.

"They definitely should (have maternity leave). It's offered at other jobs, so if you're an office worker you're getting maternity leave," Harris said.

"It would be great for females, to keep your longevity in the game."

Sutherland was noncommittal.

"We are absolutely intent on professionalising the women's game, ideally working towards a situation where women are full-time employees and can justify a career in cricket," he said.

Sarah Elliott is the only notable recent example of an Australian player to successfully juggle baby and ball after returning to the game after the birth of her son in 2013.

Elliott was happy to disclose she was pregnant and, while she was reluctant to take a contract, CA encouraged her to do so.

"I haven't heard any concerns and I think we would have, directly or through the ACA, heard if there were concerns in the one case where a woman has been pregnant inside of a contract period," Sutherland said.

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