There is a glaring disparity between the salaries of India’s male and female cricketers but former India skipper Anjum Chopra believes it is “unfair” to ask for equal pay for the women cricketers as their men counterparts because the former have not won a World Cup yet.
In the recently concluded 2020 T20 World Cup between Australia and India at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, defending champions Australia earned the same prize money as their male counterparts (during 2016 T20 World Cup) as the Cricket Australia had ensured earlier that they would top up any prize money won by the Australian women’s cricket team at the T20 World Cup to ensure parity with the men’s equivalent winnings.
While Australia have bridged the pay gap between their women and men’s cricketers, there still exists a stark contrast between the earnings of the two national teams in India.
Speaking to Indiatoday.in about the gender pay gap in Indian cricket, Anjum Chopra said, “I do not know why this has become a discussion point in such a big manner because we must remember that Indian women’s team has never won a World Cup. Men’s team has.”
As per BCCI’s recent central contracts, Grade A women players receive Rs 50 lakhs while Grade A men’s cricketers draw Rs 5 crore. The top bracket men cricketers who are in the A+ category earn Rs 7 crore.
However, Anjum said women’s cricketers should compare themselves to the best in their own gender, that is, the Australian team.
“First and foremost they should compare themselves to what the best women’s team in the world is getting-that is the Australian team. I think that will be a more fair assessment of comparison rather than being compared to men’s counterparts. Men’s cricket is the pinnacle because what Indian men’s team draws, I do not think any team in the world draws that, even men,” said Anjum, who has represented India in 6 World Cups.
“In our case, the Australian women’s cricket draws the maximum salary. And mind you the women’s Australian team gets as equal pay as their men’s team. But their women’s team has won the T20 World Cup and the 50-over format World Cup. So let’s compete with our own gender first.”
“And I think it is a brilliant thing that Australian women are getting paid equally as men. And this also means that Indian women can also get paid equally, but what is the reason that we are not getting, that is because we have not won a World Cup.”
The Indian women’s cricket team have missed on the World Cup trophy three times. The women’s team reached the T20 Word Cup final for the first time this year but lost to Australia in front of a record crowd at the MCG. In the 50-over format, they have ended as runners-up twice–after losing to England in 2017 and Australia in 2015.
The Australia women’s cricket team have won 50-over World Cup more than any other side as they lifted the trophy in 1978, 1982, 1988, 1997, 2005 and 2013. They are also a 5-time T20 world champion.
However, Anjum said the day Indian women win the World Cup, everything will change for them.
“So if we perform consistently, win the World Cup, the change will happen. Win the World Cup first. The day you win the World Cup this 50 lakh could get converted to 2 crores. So, it is unfair to demand.”
On women’s IPL
Recently, India women’s ODI captain Mithali Raj urged the BCCI to conduct the women’s IPL next year, saying the board should not “wait forever” for it and the tournament could initially be started on a “smaller scale”.
Anjum said she was in favour of holding any tournament or series that would help the women players progress.
“The reason why we are talking about IPL is that the women’s team has been doing consistently well at the international level. So for me, as long as whatever helps the team to progress, I am all for it, whether it is an IPL or any international series or tournament. The idea is to play more and more matches.”
On scheduling Women’s T20 Challenge with men’s IPL
This year’s four-team Women’s T20 Challenge is so far scheduled to be played on the sidelines of the IPL playoffs at Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. However, the fate of IPL hangs in the balance with the coronavirus outbreak that led to postponement if the league intil at least mid-April.
This year’s edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge will also see seven matches as against four last time and just one the year before. The number of teams have also increased to 4 this time as compared to last time’s 3.
However, when asked if playing the Women’s T20 Challenge along with the widely popular men’s IPL takes the sheen off the latter, Anjum said that the reason for doing so was because the women’s tournament was still not an established property.
“When you say it is a women’s IPL exhibition match then it has to be played at the time when men’s IPL is played because men’s IPL is an established property. So you will play another tournament of the same type for a different gender at the same time. And when the entire world media is following the men’s IPL, in the middle of the break women’s matches you are still dominating the newspapers. So, the press does not need to go to a different country to cover the tournament and plus you carry the momentum of the men’s IPL to the women’s IPL. And that is how advertising and branding are done.”
“And why you should not do it at the same time when you are building up a property. It’s like how women’s and men’s T20 World Cup was held at the same time earlier. So it is slowly that you build it up. You do not announce something and then do not know whether it can hold on its own or not. It is basically done to avoid any failures.”
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