The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India), has announced that it is introducing a “pay equity policy”, which puts female international players on the same footing as men. From now on, centrally contracted players, regardless of sex, will be entitled to the same match fee.
Previously the women received Rs 4 lakh for a rest match and Rs 1 lakh for a white ball, match (regardless of format).
This has been increased to Rs. 15 lakh for a test, Rs. 6 lakh for an ODI, and Rs. 3 lakh for a T20I.
The reason for the decision
The decision was taken by the BCCI (now headed by their new president Roger Binny) Apex Council.
Their secretary Jay Shah, in announcing the move, explained that the governing body was determined to tackle discrimination in the sport, and that they were moving into an era of gender equality in cricket.
They have become the second country in international cricket to implement such a policy after New Zealand.
There is precedence in football
Cricket is by no means the only sport to adopt such a policy. The Spanish football federation recently announced that male and female players will receive the same money to representing their country.
England, Ireland, Norway and the USA have also reached equal pay agreements with their male and female international teams, although the American case was not without controversy.
When the US national women’s team claimed that they were underpaid compared to their male equivalents and filed a lawsuit, their case was rejected by a Federal Court.
It was ruled that the women had actually earned more on a cumulative and average per game basis during the years in contention under the lawsuit, and that the structure of the deals that the two groups of players had negotiated was fundamentally different.
Annual retainership unchanged
The annual retainership for women remains the same. For Grade A players Rs. 50 lakh, Rs. 30 lakh for Grade B, and Rs 10 lakh for Grade C. The men receive anywhere between Rs. 1 – 7, depending on their grade, but, given that they play more matches, it is not a valid comparison.
A new dawn for Indian women’s cricket
These are exciting times for women’s cricket in India. The national team continues to go from strength to strength and they have recently won back the Asia Cup (the seventh time in all out of eight). They almost win the 2017 World Cup against the hosts England and also reached the final of the T20 World Cup two years ago in Australia.
Meanwhile, the first WIPL (Women’s India’s Premier League) will be launched in March next year, with a five team league, although the exact details of that have yet to be confirmed. And, with this new pay deal in place as well, it is hoped to attract many more girls and young women to take up the sport, which can only raise standards and performance levels higher.
It is now believed that all the apparatus is in place now for the country to start winning major ICC trophies on a regular basis.
A far cry from the past
This is a far cry from how it used to be for those few women who represented India in international cricket. There was no money involved and they had to do with the most basic of facilities, travelling in unreserved compartments and putting up with basic accommodation. Often they had to pay from their own pockets, and played for passion rather than any tangible reward.
When they went on overseas tours they had to rely on handouts and were often reliant in the generosity of government and state officials to fund their way.
Former India captain Diana Edulji helped change things when she became a member of a key BCCI sub-committee. Women cricketers began to receive one-time benefit payments, pensions were grated to test match players, and there was an upgrade in travel and stay facilities, meaning that they were no longer expected to share hotel rooms, and business class travel became the norm.
Not those former players resent their current counterparts. Instead they are glad that they can now be entitled to their just rewards when representing their country.
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