BCCI Could Take a Cue From Australia On How to Treat Women’s Team
Cricket Australia’s efforts to support women’s cricket and the cricketers is a lesson for all other cricket boards.
Australia are the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup champions, beating India in the final by 85 runs. Meg Lanning’s team have won the title for a record fifth time even as Alyssa Healy was named the Player of the Match for her 75 while her opening partner Beth Mooney was named the Player of the Series.
Even as Australia booked their berth in the final on Thursday, with a win over South Arica, Cricket Australia (CA) made an appreciable gesture that reminds us of the evolution of women's international cricket.
CA approved a leave for Mitchell Starc from the current tour of South Africa to go watch his wife, Alyssa Healy, play the final.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Mitch to watch Alyssa in a home World Cup final and so we were happy to allow him to return home to support his wife and be part of a fantastic occasion," Justin Langer, Australia's head coach said.
CA, Ahead of the Times
This gesture by CA is in line with their incredible efforts to promote and sustain the women's game over the years. In 2017, the board increased wages of its women's cricketers by 125 percent, an unprecedented hike in the women's game until then.
Then, Cricket Australia CEO, James Sutherland, stressed that their aim was “gender equality”.
On top of the pay hike, there were steps taken to ensure that the minimum and average pay for men and women in the state sides were same. The match fee for WNCL (Women's National Cricket League) and the Matador Cup (the men's corresponding event) was made equal. The Women's Big Bash League prize money was identified at a whopping $309,000.
The women’s pay increased from $79,000 to $179,000 in 2017 with an aim to raise the average earning of international women’s cricketers to $210,000 by 2021.
It wasn't a one-off step from CA to develop the women's game. Last year, CA made a ground-breaking revelation. They announced a parental leave policy where the women's cricketers could avail 12 months of paid parental leave, also guaranteeing a contract extension the following year.
"Were a woman cricketer to become pregnant, it typically signalled the end of their career,” Alistair Nicholson, chief executive of the Australian Cricketers’ Association, said at the time. “The travesty of this is that so many great athletes have not been given the chance to reach their true potential, denying the rest of us the opportunity to enjoy and admire their talent."
Looking Out For Its Players
Also part of this policy was travel support, child care helper and a clause to allow pregnant players to don a non-playing role until they give birth. The board went out of its way to not only ensure that their women cricketers are happy, but also encourage more women to take up the sport.
Also, continuing from 2017 was an effort to ensure equal pay among men and women. When ICC announced a prize money increment of 320 percent for the Women's T20 World Cup 2020 (from the 2018 event), CA went one step ahead. They promised to top up whatever money their women's team would win from ICC to ensure parity with the men's winning equivalent.
The winners of the ongoing women’s tournament is set to receive $US1m. The runners-up get a sum of $500,000. These figures are short of what the men’s team receive for the same event.
What CA would do is ensure that the prize money is similar by dishing out the remaining amount from their reserve. If Australia Women were to win on Sunday, they would receive $US1m.
CA would top that up with $600,000 to bring it up to the men's prize money. That they took an effort to bring parity on top of what the ICC was already doing is commendable.
On the other hand, we have BCCI, the richest board in the world, who are reluctant to even raise the pay of their women's cricketers. BCCI's men's pay structure is divided into Grade A+, A, B and C. The players are paid based on this grade with Grade A+ getting Rs 7 crore, Grade A Rs 5 crore, Grade B Rs 3 crore and Grade C Rs 1 crore respectively.
The salary of the women's players is only a fraction of this. The highest paid women cricketers – Grade A that includes Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Poonam Yadav for the 2019-2020 cycle – get half of what a Grade C India men's player gets.
It is ironic that this starkly different pay structure was announced on international women's day last year.
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