India’s women cricketers will be paid the same international match fee as their male counterparts, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) said on Thursday in a momentous move that was hailed by players even as they await more measures to level the playing field.
The step is significant, say experts, since the world’s richest cricket body will finally walk the talk on pay parity. Also, the BCCI will become the second cricket body after New Zealand Cricket, which announced in July that it would award both its men and women players equal match pay.
Jay Shah, secretary, BCCI, tweeted on Thursday that women cricketers, like their male counterparts, would earn Rs 15 lakh for a test match, Rs 6 lakh for a one-day international (ODI), and Rs 3 lakh for a T-20 international match. These amounts are higher than the Rs 1 lakh that India women players currently earn for an ODI or T20I appearance, and Rs 4 lakh for a test match.
Shantha Rangaswamy, former India cricket captain and BCCI Apex Council member, said that the outflow for the cricket body would be Rs 10 crore per annum, thanks to the pay parity move.
“It is no doubt an important step that the BCCI has taken. This will certainly lift the morale of women who represent the national squad. But it would have helped if domestic women cricketers were also considered for pay parity with their male counterparts. Also, the issue of pay gap in central contracts handed by BCCI for men and women cricketers is yet to be addressed,” Rangaswamy said.
According to the BCCI remuneration list, a grade A+ (the highest bracket) male cricketer is paid Rs 7 crore in annual salary, while those in grades A, B and C pocket Rs 5 crore, Rs 3 crore and Rs 1 crore, respectively.
Women cricketers have three slabs, and the highest earners, in Grade A, are paid Rs 50 lakh. Grade B and C cricketers earn Rs 30 lakh and Rs 10 lakh, respectively.
The discrepancy in salary is stark lower down the list. A senior domestic woman cricketer, for instance, is entitled to a match fee of Rs 20,000, which is equal to the match fee of an Under 19 domestic male cricketer. This figure was Rs 12,500 per match earlier, said Rangaswamy.
Ayaz Memon, a sports expert, says that while the BCCI has taken a key step towards addressing pay parity, the larger issue of organising more women’s cricket matches still remains.
“Women cricketers land up playing fewer matches than their male counterparts. So, their earnings are lower as a result. The good part is that acceptance for women’s cricket is growing in the country. We will also have a women’s Indian Premier League next year, which will change the dynamics for women’s cricket in the country,” Memon said.
At the moment, the BCCI has announced a five-team women’s IPL, which will be held after the women’s T20 World Cup ends in South Africa on February 26.
The BCCI’s proposed plan for the one-month tournament, slated in March 2023, involves a total of 22 matches, with each squad comprising 18 players with a maximum of six from overseas. Tenders for the broadcaster of the tournament and franchise owners will be floated later this year, BCCI officials said.
On Thursday, top current and former women’s cricketers such as Mithali Raj, Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur and Jhulan Goswami, lauded the BCCI for its effort to boost pay parity. Since the Raj-led Indian women’s side finished as the runner-up in the ICC Women’s World Cup in 2017, the national squad has routinely figured in the finals of key tournaments and won most of them.
In August, they clinched a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games. In September, the Indian women’s cricket team clinched the ODI series against England with a 3-0 whitewash. And in early October, India won the Asia Women’s Cup for the seventh time.