CHENNAI: Thursday is International Women’s Day. The theme for this year is #PressForProgress — a push for gender parity worldwide.Just as well that the BCCI announced a new contract system for India’s women cricketers on Wednesday. This is only the second time that the board has announced a central contract system for women cricketers, and first after the 2015-16 season.
After becoming the last cricket board to hand out central contracts for women, they made further progress on Wednesday. 19 players were included under three categories (only 11 featured across two categories in 2015-16).But this news comes with a heavy caveat: the BCCI could be doing a lot more to pay its women cricketers better. Nothing illustrates this point better than Jayant Yadav’s new contract. Yadav has not played for the Indian team since the Test in Pune against Australia last February. That translates to not being capped by the national team over the last 376 days. All-rounder Harmanpreet Kaur, in that same time, has featured in 17 ODIs and five T20Is. Mithali Raj, who skippered the team in their run to the World Cup final last year, has similar numbers since Yadav’s last appearance for the men’s national team. You will never guess who gets paid more by the BCCI.
As per the new contract system, Yadav, who is in Category C, will be paid a retainership of Rs 1 cr for the period of Oct 2017 to Sep 2018. We are into the sixth month of the said period and Yadav has played for India zero times during that time. Zero. Kaur and Raj, two of the four women cricketers to be featured in Grade A, will be paid a retainership of Rs 50 lakh for the same time period. They both played for India 22 times. Twenty-two times. The new pay structure also gives the impression that women’s domestic players are being inadvertently punished because of them not being involved in any four/five-day games. Consider this fact: men’s senior domestic reserves will be paid more (Rs 17,500) than each and every playing member of the various domestic women’s teams (Rs 12,500).
While there are a few mitigating factors — lack of sponsors in women’s cricket being a primary concern and the women have a very short season as compared to the men and don’t have the same patronage — the previous point is an indictment of sorts. Sure, there has been a big bump in contracts of the A-listers. The likes of Raj and Kaur have been given a raise of Rs 35 lakhs (from Rs 15 lakh, a jump of over 200%). But in the year when women’s cricketers forced themselves on the public’s consciousness — reaching the World Cup final and beating South Africa in their own backyard — it could have been a touch better.
Rs 50 Lakh
Rs 30 Lakh
Rs 10 Lakh