The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has announced their annual contract by introducing a new ‘A+’ category in men’s cricket and a ‘C’ category in women’s cricket. Five male players who are included in the A+ category are Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Bhubaneshwar Kumar and Jashprit Bumrah. BCCI has ensured the annual contracts worth Rs seven crore each.
Players like M S Dhoni and Ravinandra Ashwin have not been included in the top level and feature in A level with others like Ravindra Jadeja, Chetaswar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Wridhiman Saha and Murali Vijay. They will be getting five crore each.
There is a lot of hue and cry about the exclusion of MS Dhoni from the top bracket. And why not? He is the only captain to give India two World Cups and a Champions Trophy, though not being able to win series overseas. He is also the player to make India a world-class team, though not being very successful in finding new players. The BCCI has stated that Dhoni has retired from Test and Ashwin has lost his place from the ODI side…and thus were not kept in A+ category.
But why questions were not asked to the BCCI about paying such an amount to the A grade women players that is half the amount received by the lowest paid male cricketers? While the women’s A grade cricketers will get 50 lakh per year, the C grade male cricketers will get 1 crore each. So does Mithali Raj or Jhulan Goswami cannot even match Kedar Jadhav or Axar Patel? Is Jayant Yadav better than Harmanpreet Kaur or Manish Pandey superior to Smriti Mandhana.
The women’s cricket team are performing extremely well for the last 12 months. They reached the final of the World Cup in 2017 but lost to England by a mere 9 run. Recently they dominated the overseas tour of South Africa and won both the ODI and T20 series. Still there is a huge pay gap between the men’s and the women’s cricket teams.
It is true that the workload for the men’s team is huge in comparison to women’s team. The viewership for our ‘superior gender’ is also huge while the women lag far behind. But, with this pay gap, is not BCCI drawing a barrier between the two? The likes of Mithali Raj or Jhulan Goswam, whose contribution to the development of women’s cricket in India is unquestionable, deserve a bit more respect. Both these veteran players are world record holders-Mithali is the highest run-getter in women’s cricket and Jhulan is the highest wicket taker. Still they find themselves not being fit to be considered as idol; still they are inferior to a new comer like Jasprit Bumrah.
Apart from this pay gap, the BCCI also does not negotiate contracts for the television rights of women’s cricket matches. The fan base for these cricketers has increased throughout the world but they are barred from watching the matches. If this remains the case, then BCCI itself is regulating the progress of women’s cricket in India, instead of promoting it.