In a very welcome change in policies, the Pakistan Cricket Board has launched its latest Parental Support Policy. The scheme is designed by PCB to empower and assist players on their transition to parenthood, during conception and after delivery, embracing all male and female athletes under its contracts.
As part of a global movement that has seen business and economy-wide changes in parental support policies, the PCB has taken a much needed phase. Athletes live a difficult life as seen from the prism of parenthood, their strict training routines and year-long playing schedules leave no space for them to be prepared to plan parenthood, while some do have the aspirations.
As part of the new policies, woman cricketers would now be entitled to yearlong paid maternity leave, in addition to the possibility of transitioning to a non-playing job as they enter their maternity leave. They will be guaranteed a contract for the next year before returning for maternity leave and when they return, the board will include physical therapy and help to rehabilitate them post-childbirth. Male cricketers are also allowed compromises, and would be entitled to a month long paid paternity leave.
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Only the Australian and New Zealand cricket boards have extensive parental leave programmes, and other boards are reported to be operating on their own policies.
Only last week, Pakistan team captain Bismah Maroof declared her indefinite maternity leave.
The PCB was reported to be in the middle of drawing up the recently released provisions at the moment. Today, when the news is revealed, Maroof is the first cricketer to profit from the new policies.
“The PCB has a duty of care towards its cricketers and at every turn it has taken measures to support them. In this relation, it is appropriate that we have a player-friendly parental support policy so that our professional cricketers can feel fully supported during an important stage in their lives, without worrying about their careers,” PCB Chief Executive Wasim Khan said in a press release.
“To have this policy for our women cricketers was even more significant. Women play a pivotal role in the development of a society and our women cricketers have brought us laurels and recognition at the world stage,” he said.
“Now that we have maternity leave policy, I am hopeful that it will attract more women and girls to take up the sport as this will help them strike the crucial work-life balance.
Fans of both the squad and the sport reacted positively to the news, with PCB receiving widespread praise. Mazher Arshad, a cricket statistician, was one of the most notable praisers.
Pakistan have introduced 12 months paid maternity leave for women’s cricketers and a guaranteed contract for the following year. Well done PCB! This is an excellent decision.
— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) May 4, 2021
Zainab Abbas, a cricket journalist, was also impressed by the launch, hailing it as a “fantastic initiative.”
Sana Mir, a former national team captain, thanked all involved.
This should definitely help players balance their lives better. Also thinking about all the players who have been vocal about this in their journeys of motherhood and paving ways for others. Congratulations to all involved. https://t.co/7j3p5KOqEH
— Sana Mir ثناء میر (@mir_sana05) May 4, 2021
Urooj Mumtaz Khan, a former captain and current chief selector, defined the development as a big step forward.
— Urooj Mumtaz Khan (@uroojmumtazkhan) May 4, 2021
Jalal-ud-Din, an ex-cricketer and chief selector for the women’s side, praised the decision as well.
— Jalal Uddin (@JalaluddinCoach) May 4, 2021
Former Australian cricketers Lisa Sthalekar and Mel Jones praised the decision.
— Lisa Sthalekar (@sthalekar93) May 4, 2021
Moves like this for squad members in both the women’s and men’s @TheRealPCB program are so positively impactful. To cricket, sport, society. Congratulations to all involved. #leaders https://t.co/8zdmGEdc2M
— Mel Jones (@meljones_33) May 4, 2021
For a long time, parental duties have been a source of worry in cricket, as players devote their reproductive years to the sport against their personal desires to start a family. There were mixed reactions in India when Indian men’s cricket captain Virat Kohli returned from his mid-series tour of Australia for the birth of his child earlier this year. Some recognized the situation and supported Kohli’s decision to return, although others wondered how he could shirk his national commitments in such a way, calling his conduct “unpatriotic.”
We applaud the PCB’s decision and want to see such decisions taken by boards around the globe.