The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced the annual player contracts for the senior women cricketers of the Indian team from October 2019 to September 2020. About 22 cricketers have been included in the central contracts, that has three stalwarts in Grade A.
T20I skipper and middle-order hard-hitting batswoman Harmanpreet Kaur has been enlisted in Grade A along with left-handed Smriti Mandhana and spinner Poonam Yadav. The top-grade in the women's central contracts offer INR 50 lakh, while Grade B offers INR 30 lakh for the said period.
The players, according to a report, included in this category include Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Ekta Bisht, Radha Yadav, Shikha Pandey, Deepti Sharma, Jemimah Rodrigues, and Taniya Bhatia, while Grade C has Veda Krishnamurthy, Punam Raut, Anuja Patil, Mansi Joshi, Daya Hemalatha, Arundhati Reddy, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Pooja Vastrakar, Harleen Deol, Priya Punia and youngster Shafali Verma.
The 15-year old Verma, who made her Team India debut only last year, but has already impressed in her short career thus far, is a new entrant in the list. She has booked her flight to the T20 World Cup that will be held next month in Australia and will be eager to leave a mark in her first ICC global event.
The BCCI also released the senior men's central contracts earlier today, with the players enlisted in Grade A+ walking home with INR 7 crore besides the match fees that they would pocket. The Grade A players in the men's category earn INR 5 crore, and the huge pay gap is all too visible.
It was only in 2015 that the BCCI introduced the system of central pay contracts for the women cricketers as well, 11 years after their male counterparts were given the same. The step, back then, finally meant that the Board had woken up to acknowledge the face of cricket that has long been ignored in the country over the years. After a stellar run in the last two years, which started with a final's appearance in the 2017 World Cup, women's cricket in India is finally on the rise, with home games often seeing packed houses as well.
Though the BCCI is planning a women's IPL in the near future, after seeing the potential financial gains that it could provide, the need of the hour is not only lessening the pay gap but providing equal pay as well. Over the years, a number of women athletes have voiced their dissent at the discriminatory nature of prize money and contracts, justifying that the amount of hard work and dedication that they put in is often on par with their male contemporaries.
The BCCI can take a leaf off of Cricket Australia's book, which has a base pay rate for all their players, irrespective of gender. The CA also announced that if the Australian women's cricket team were to win the T20 World Cup next month, they would be paid the same amount as the men's T20 World Cup winners would pocket.
The International Cricket Council (ICC), had, earlier, announced that the winners of the Women's T20 World Cup would be paid $1.475 million, a 320 percent increase from the 2018 edition, but still $737,500 less than what the men would receive in the event that will be held in October this year. If the Australian women's team end up winning the title, the CA would top up the winner's prize money from their own pocket to ensure pay parity.