Indian women's cricket captain Harmanpreet Kaur has had a ringside view of change in the sport over the last year, with the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) finally taking steps to promote the game and announcing pay equity between the men's and women's teams' match feee, and then finally getting in motion the Women's Premier League, the first season of which was played in March of 2023.
Mumbai Indians, led by Harman, won the inaugural season of the tournament, and we spoke to the skipper about the event, the benefits of a WPL to India's domestic players, and P&G WeSeeEqual Summit that she was a panelist at.
Harman, you've just completed a successful season of cricket in which your team even won the WPL, and you have a fairly packed season ahead. How different is it compared to say, three years back, when we were just left asking when they women's team would even play their next match.
Now that we are playing cricket back to back, we're happy that are we getting this opportunity because there was a time when we used to get hardly 1-2 series in a year. But now, so much cricket is happening and after the WPL, this break was so important for all of us and we all are enjoying.
I have just started my training and now looking forward to the upcoming season.
The WPL also gave a platform to the many Indian domestic players who have worked hard for many years, but haven't been able to make the cut for international cricket. The WPL in that way gave them the spotlight and also the auction money would have gone a long way to for some players to just get some validation that their years of hard work was worth something right?
Yes, definitely. We always talk about how just the few girls who are playing for the country, are the ones who are getting the opportunity and all the money. Also because in domestic cricket we hardly get 10-12 games and then if you don't qualify for the next round, you don't play any more cricket.
The WPL is something we all wanted to start because it was so important for the young players, for the domestic players as they can also now play more and get some more money, some security in their life because that is also very important because when money was not involved, security was not there.
I could see many girls leaving cricket because their parents didn't want them to play because they weren't earning enough. I know some girls were only playing cricket just out of the love for cricket. But now, there is security in playing cricket, and you can secure your life also.
You were part of P&G's WeSeeEqual summit where you were part of the 'Reimagining Empowerment in 2023' discussion. Harman, how do you think it applies to women's cricket in this day and age, specially in this year when you had the WPL and have more cricket coming up.
In the P&G panel, we discussed women's equality & women's empowerment. We always talk about equality and about equal pay in women’s cricket but now these things are are actually happening. We are getting equal pay as men. I think bringing those things into any platform can bring a lot of positivity.
Now people are equally excited about both men’s and women’s cricket matches. Earlier, even we were were very keen to watch men’s cricket but now we can see changes happening in women’s cricket. Wherever women’s cricket is happening, we also love to go and a watch. So, these things are important at every stage, where you give equal opportunity to everyone.
I think for us, the game changing moment was equal parity and because of that, many girls want to play cricket as now security is there. When you have that security, you always want to take that risk. BCCI is putting in so much effort. So in this panel also, we discussed about our journeys, when we started how many girls were there to support. But now, things are changing and I am really happy about it.
You mentioned pay parity but the announcement made by the BCCI only included your match fee, not annual contracts which in fact are where cricketers earn the maximum of your yearly salary from the board from. While it's a small step in the right direction, do you think BCCI should consider announcing equal contract amounts?
I think they will take this step also. In the last few years, we have seen so much changes taking place, WPL has happened, equal match fee has happened. The contract is the next step and I am sure they will think about that also.
Whatever little changes have happened, we are really happy about them and we are very positive about that. After some time, they will think about this thing because everyone is putting equal efforts, equal hard work.
So these things will happen but sometimes, it takes a little time.
The positivity that has been going around since last 2-3 years has brought a lot of girls to the stadium and I am sure this is the next step and they will be thinking about it.