Australia Women have named their squad to take on England Women in the Ashes series in August as well as revealing its list of contracted players for the 2013-14 season.
The contract system has been restructured by Cricket Australia (CA), making the chosen women among the highest paid sportswomen in the country - a reflection of their recent success.
They are the reigning ICC World Cup and ICC World Twenty20 champions, also holding the Ashes and Rose Bowl trophies following series wins against England and New Zealand.
The best paid cricketers will now receive a retainer of $52,000 (up from $15,000) and the minimum retainer is now $25,000 (up from $5,000).
Match fees will also increase from $100 to $250 per day and with 85 tour days in the next year, players could earn up to an additional $20,000 in the next 12 months.
Cricket Australia is also providing $100,000 for each state association as well as ACT (Australian Capital Territory) for the development of women's cricket.
"The Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars devote a huge amount of time and energy into being the number one team in the world in all formats and we feel that this is a landmark step in recognising their commitment and contribution to cricket as Australia’s favourite sport," CA Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland said.
"The recent success of the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars has led to unprecedented media coverage and recognition, as well as playing a significant role in driving an increase in female cricket participation by 18% in the last 12 months taking us to 180,000 female participants.
"We are still working towards the day when Australia's female cricketers will be able to earn a full-time, professional living from cricket. But the performances of our female stars justify this step and the day will come when future, full-time professional female cricketers will look back and thank those who went before them.
"It’s an exciting time for Australian cricket. Four of the last seven years have seen record crowds at cricket played in Australia, average TV audiences for cricket rate higher than any other sport and we have 950,000 participants, the highest participants of any Australian sport.
"In the past seven days we’ve signed two of the biggest sponsorships in Australian sports for our men’s home Test and ODI teams and series and research shows that more Australians are fanatical about cricket than they are fanatical about any other sport in the country."
The women will compete for the Ashes in a revised format of one Test, three One-Day Internationals and three Twenty20 Internationals in August. Six points are on offer for each format - two points for a win in a limited overs match, six for winning the Test - and the team gaining the most points over the series will win the Ashes.
Should the Test match be drawn or tied, two points apiece will be awarded and washouts or ties in the limited overs matches will see one point awarded to both sides.
As Australia hold the Ashes, a drawn series overall will see them retain the title.
Australia Women contracted list 2013-14: Alex Blackwell, Jess Cameron, Sarah Coyte, Holly Ferling, Jodie Fields, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Julie Hunter, Jess Jonassen, Meg Lanning, Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani
Australia Women Ashes squad: Jodie Fields (captain), Alex Blackwell (vice-captain), Jess Cameron, Sarah Coyte, Sarah Elliott (Test only), Holly Ferling, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Julie Hunter, Jess Jonassen, Meg Lanning, Erin Osborne, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Elyse Villani
© Cricket World 2013
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