After a summer series tie between England and Australia—though the Aussies managed to keep their grip on the Ashes—England’s women cricketers are getting a long-overdue financial boost. Effective immediately, their match fees for international games will match those of their male counterparts.
This seismic shift comes on the heels of a report from the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC), which didn’t mince words about the pervasive discrimination in English and Welsh cricket. According to the report, women were pocketing a meager 25% of what men earned for white-ball matches and an even more abysmal 15% for Test matches. Talk about a financial googly!
Team captain Heather Knight couldn’t be happier, describing the change as “absolutely brilliant.” She emphasized the need to keep pushing women’s cricket into the limelight, saying, “The ultimate aim has always been to make women’s cricket sustainable and appealing, both for those who want to play and those who want to be fans. I’m optimistic this change will make cricket more enticing for young girls and women.”
This pay equalization comes after a women’s Ashes series that drew record-smashing crowds, clearly indicating the growing interest in the women’s game. Richard Gould, the big kahuna at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), stated, “We’re still going through the laundry list of recommendations from the ICEC report, but leveling the match fees is one change we’re thrilled to enact immediately.”
He continued, “We’re investing in women’s cricket to make it the go-to team sport for female athletes in the UK. And given the rising global opportunities, we’re watching our women cricketers become some of the UK’s top-earning female team athletes. But let’s not break out the bubbly just yet; there’s more work to be done to achieve true equality.”
Just in time for England’s women’s T20 series against Sri Lanka kicking off this Thursday, the change in match fees is not just symbolic—it’s practical. These fees are in addition to the broader salaries that players receive from the ECB, which remain unchanged by this development.
The ICEC report didn’t just point out gender disparities; it also highlighted systemic issues like racism, classism, and elitism. Currently, the average salary for women cricketers is just 20.6% of what the men earn. When it comes to captain’s allowances, the women’s captain receives only 31% compared to the men’s skipper.
Last year, the ECB had already committed £3.5 million each for 2023 and 2024, increasing the number of pro women cricketers to almost a century mark. In comparison, the Football Association leveled the financial playing field for men’s and women’s players back in 2020.
And lest we forget, the International Cricket Council already pledged this year to offer equal prize money in its competitions. So, is this the innings where women’s cricket finally hits a six? Well, it sure looks promising.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Gender Parity
What were the match fees for England’s women cricketers before the change?
Prior to the change, England’s women cricketers were being paid 25% of the men’s match fees for white-ball matches and only 15% for Test matches by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
What prompted the change in match fees for England’s women cricketers?
The change in match fees was recommended by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) report, which highlighted the “widespread” discrimination in English and Welsh cricket. The report shed light on gender-based pay disparities and advocated for equalization of match fees.
How did England captain Heather Knight react to the change?
Heather Knight, England’s cricket captain, expressed her excitement and called the change “fantastic to see.” She emphasized the importance of advancing women’s cricket and creating a sustainable product that appeals to a wider audience.
How does the change impact the future of women’s cricket?
The change in match fees signifies a positive step towards gender equality in cricket. By narrowing the pay gap between male and female cricketers, the move aims to attract more interest in women’s cricket and encourage young girls to pursue the sport.
What other issues did the ICEC report address besides match fees?
In addition to addressing match fee disparities, the ICEC report also highlighted issues of racism, sexism, classism, and elitism within English and Welsh cricket. The report revealed that the average salary for women cricketers is significantly lower than that of their male counterparts.
How does this change compare to other efforts for gender equality in sports?
This change aligns with a growing trend of promoting gender equality in sports. The Football Association, for instance, started paying equal amounts to men’s and women’s players in 2020. Additionally, the International Cricket Council committed to equal prize money for its events earlier this year.
When will the new match fee system be put into effect?
The change in match fees for England’s women cricketers took immediate effect. It was introduced just in time for England’s women’s T20 series against Sri Lanka, signaling the beginning of a new era of equal pay in cricket.
How does the change fit into the broader picture of women’s cricket development?
The change in match fees is part of a larger effort by the ECB to boost women’s cricket. In 2022, the ECB announced a substantial increase in funding for 2023 and 2024, aimed at expanding the number of professional women cricketers to nearly 100. This change aligns with the vision of making cricket a premier choice for female athletes.