MUMBAI: Women’s cricket in India just got bigger. In a historic, ground-breaking move, which can be termed as a ‘Diwali bonanza’ for Harmanpreet Kaur & Co, the BCCI on Thursday announced that it was introducing equal match fee for India’s male and female cricketers for appearances in international cricket.
“I’m pleased to announce @BCCI’s first step towards tackling discrimination. We are implementing pay equity policy for our contracted @BCCIWomen cricketers. The match fee for both Men and Women Cricketers will be same as we move into a new era of gender equality in Indian Cricket,” Shah tweeted, marking October 27 as a red letter day for women’s cricketers in India. “The @BCCIWomen cricketers will be paid the same match fee as their male counterparts. Test (INR 15 lakhs), ODI (INR 6 lakhs), T20I (INR 3 lakhs). Pay equity was my commitment to our women cricketers and I thank the Apex Council for their support. Jai Hind,” he added.
India is now just the second country in world cricket after New Zealand to introduce pay parity for its male and female contracted cricketers. On July 5 this year, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) had announced that New Zealand’s men and women players would be paid the same match fees across all formats and competitions, but the match fee of Kiwi male cricketers is comparatively much lower than their Indian, mostly superstar counterparts.
As per the BCCI’s current annual contracts structure (which remains the same), the highest paid women cricketers in India-skipper Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Poonam Yadav- earn Rs 50 lakh by virtue of being in Grade A, while Grade B and Grade C contracts are worth Rs 30 lakh and Rs 10 lakh. In comparison, the Indian men's team captain Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah are bracketed in an A+ category, which entitles them to Rs 7 crore annually. Those in Grades A, B and C get 5 crore, 3 crore and 1 crore. India’s male cricketers, of course, will still earn more in terms of match fee as they play more international matches compared to their women counterparts in India.
The BCCI’s decision is another significant shot in the arm for women’s cricket in India, which has been on an upswing since Mithali Raj & Co made it to the final of the 2017 Women’s World Cup. In August, they clinched a silver medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and next month, followed that up with a 3-0 ODI series sweep of England in England. Earlier this month in Bangladesh, India won the Women’s Asia Cup for the 7th time. In March next year, the BCCI will launch the inaugural edition of the Women’s IPL.
The path-breaking decision was taken at an Apex Council meeting of the BCCI at the Board’s HQ here on Thursday- the first with India’s 1983 World Cup hero Roger Binny as the new Board president. “It’s a revolutionary, momentous decision. This decision will make waves in world cricket, because even England and Australia, where women’s cricket started much before it started in India, have not yet implemented this. The BCCI can raise its collar now! It has shown that it is equally concerned for its women cricketers. It’s a step in the right direction. I hope that this is just a precursor, and in due course of time, the domestic cricket fee structure for our female cricketers will also be at with male cricketers,” former India women’s captain Shantha Rangaswamy, who (virtually) attender her last Apex Council meeting as an Indian Cricketers Association representative, told TOI.
“It was an apt parting gift for me. I’m glad that my innings has ended on a high, with something good for our women cricketers. I would express my gratitude to Binny, Jay Shah and Rajiv Shukla (BCCI vice-president). I would specially give full credit to Jay Shah. We have even travelled unreserved in trains to play matches, but I’m happy for our present women cricketers,” Rangaswamy said.
“This is a historic decision for women’s cricket in India! The pay equity policy along with the WIPL next year, we are ushering into a new era for women's cricket in India. Thank you @JayShah Sir & the @BCCI for making this happen. Really happy today,” tweeted former India women’s captain Mithali Raj.