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BCCI’s Player Contracts & the Annual Injustice to the Women’s Team

The Indian women’s cricket team has performed well on the field, now it’s time for BCCI to step up their game.

Updated
Cricket
4 min read

After playing for six international matches, an Indian male cricketer – according to the BCCI – deserves to earn more than a captain of the Indian women cricket team, or the highest-scoring woman cricketer, or the highest wicket-taking female cricketer in one-day cricket.

Yes, that is how glaring the pay gap in Indian cricket is, where a Mithali Raj or a Harmanpreet Kaur or Jhulan Goswami earn less than half of what an Indian male cricketer makes in his first season of his international cricket.

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New Year, Same Contract Structure

The Indian women’s contracts were announced by the BCCI in May and much like their male counterparts, the women’s contracts too run from October 2020 to September 2021.

However, that’s where the similarity between the salaries of the two senior teams handled by the board ends.

While the men’s list saw 28 players contracted for the season, the women had their list cut down from 22 last year to just 19 players this season.

The male contracts have been divided into four categories, with the highest-earning slab of Rs 7 crore, followed by Rs 5 crore, then 3 crore, and, finally, 1 crore. The womens’ retainer list has the 19 players divided into three categories, with players earning Rs 50 lakh, Rs 30 lakh, and Rs 10 lakh for the season.

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BCCI’s Player Contracts & the Annual Injustice to the Women’s Team

Women’s Team’s Highs Simply Ignored

The Indian men’s cricket team is among the most popular in the world. They pack the most stadiums, sell most tickets and have more sponsors than the women’s team, so yes, it does make sense for them to earn more. That is not being argued here.

And while the women’s team may, not yet, be able to match their male counterparts’ popularity, they have topped Virat Kohli’s team on one parameter. And since this is professional sport, that one parameter should count for a lot considering the women’s cricket team has reached the final of the last T20 World Cup and also the last 50-over ICC Women’s World Cup, a feat that Virat Kohli and his team have not managed to achieve in their last two outings.

But instead of rewarding the women’s team for their consistent performances, the BCCI went the other extreme and did not schedule a single international match for the team for an entire year, since their outing in the final of the 2020 T20 World Cup against Australia. This was the same final that created many new viewership records and saw the Indian women’s cricket team reach the peak of their form, performance, popularity, and fitness.

Instead of capitalising on it, the BCCI let the women’s cricket team sit at home for an entire year, even as their male counterparts played in the IPL, toured Australia, and even hosted England across formats.

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Yes, Men Should Make More, But Why Can’t Women Make Enough?

So, if the BCCI can choose to ignore the very existence of the Indian women’s cricket team for an entire year and face no consequence, why are they expected to try to move in the right direction and address the issue of the major gap in India’s men’s and women’s cricketers salaries?

A simple answer to this: Because they can afford it.

The BCCI is the richest cricket body in the world and according to their own payment statements, that have been posted on their own website, they paid Rs 150 crore as advance tax for the second quarter of the last financial year. And if you do your math, you can figure out the kind of income the BCCI generates in a year.

Also, more importantly, the BCCI is a not-for-profit organisation. The money the board generates is supposed to be put back into the sport. Which means that, domestic cricket, age-group cricket and women’s cricket should benefit from the income. And in that context, it is important to ask if Rs 5.1 crore is all the BCCI has to spare to pay the 19 international women’s cricketers, who have played the sport that the board is supposed to oversee, help run, help expand, and make as aspirational as the men’s game.

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  • Rs 5.1 crore spent on the salaries of 19 Indian international women’s cricketers
  • Rs 96 crore spent on the 28 contracts of the Indian men’s cricketers

Does that seem fair to you?

  • Rs 5.1 crore spent on the salaries of 19 Indian international women’s cricketers
  • Rs 7 crore on Virat Kohli’s yearly salary alone

Is that fair?

The question here is not about parity. That a Serena Williams can bring in as many fans, sponsors, and viewers to a game as her male counterparts and therefore, demand an equal prize purse is how forward this pay parity debate has moved, on a global level.

But in India, while the women’s cricketers may not be as popular as the men’s team, it is also grossly disrespectful for the BCCI to continue with the current salary structure, where all their salaries put together don’t match up to what one male player takes home in a year.

It’s illogical to start with and disrespectful in the very least, when you consider that it is within BCCI’s powers to be able to put aside a larger chunk of the profits for player salaries.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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