Apart from the regular contracts, Southern Stars players get a minimum match fee of AUS$ 1000 for Tests and AUS$ 700 for ODIs and T20Is. © Getty Images

Apart from the regular contracts, Southern Stars players get a minimum match fee of AUS$ 1000 for Tests and AUS$ 700 for ODIs and T20Is. © Getty Images

Cricket Australia released a striking statement last week about the proposed Memorandum of Understanding for 2017-22. James Sutherland, the board CEO, seemed pleased about the offers his board made to its players – and why not? The stand-out feature of the proposal was a remarkable 125% increase in the retainers for Australia’s female cricketers under central contracts. The pay increase for domestic players was just as significant. Besides, the women would also get a share of the surplus from the profits CA made.

These features are still proposals and need to be accepted by the Australian Cricketers’ Association. These numbers might yet change, and one point of contention might be the pregnancy clauses, details of which were leaked to the media in December 2016. Yet, the announcement marks a statement of intent and the numbers proposed are truly significant for the women’s game.

In light of the Australian proposal – and in a World Cup year at that – Wisden India looks at the top seven women’s teams and compares their earnings based on figures publicised by the boards.

Australia: The epitome of professionalism

The Southern Stars, the defending World Cup champions, are a force to be reckoned with in the women’s game, setting a high standard in performance and training. With the introduction of the WBBL, Australia were also trailblazers in creating women’s T20 leagues. The heart of this professionalism has been CA’s pay contract system for their female cricketers.

Type of contract

Amount*

Amount (approx. in INR)

Players

International players

AUS$ 79,000 (maximum retainer fee + WBBL retainer fee)

Rs 39.84 lakh

Kristen Beams

Alex Blackwell

Nicole Bolton

Lauren Cheatle

Sarah Coyte

Rene Farrell

Holly Ferling

Grace Harris

Alyssa Healy

Jess Jonassen

Meg Lanning

Beth Mooney

Erin Osborne

Ellyse Perry

Megan Schutt

Elyse Villani

AUS$ 65,000 (maximum retainer fee)

Rs 32.65 lakh

AUS$ 40,000 (minimum retainer fee)

Rs 20.09 lakh

WBBL players

AUS$ 15,000 (maximum WBBL retainer fee)

Rs 7.53 lakh

AUS$ 7000 (minimum WBBL retainer fee)

Rs 3.51 lakh

Domestic players

AUS$ 33,000 (maximum retainer fee + WNCL retainer fee + minimum WBBL retainer fee)

Rs 16.57 lakh (approx.)

 

AUS$ 11,000 (WNCL retainer fee)

Rs 5.52 lakh (approx.)

*Amounts as decided under current MoU (2012-17)

Apart from the regular contracts, players get a minimum match fee of AUS$ 1000 for Tests and AUS$ 700 for ODIs and T20Is. This means that in a full season of an Ashes series (1 Test, 3 ODIs, 3 T20Is), a full WBBL campaign and a World Cup campaign (excluding knock-out games), someone like Meg Lanning, the captain, could earn close to AUS$ 89,000 (Rs 44.69 lakh) in a single season.

This excludes match bonuses, performance bonuses, prize money, endorsement money, sponsorships, insurance and other concessions. It all makes Australia Women the highest paid, even among sportswomen in their country.


England: A two-year deal

The England and Wales Cricket Board introduced central contracts for their female cricketers in 2014. In December 2016, the central contracts were extended to two years along with the introduction of ‘rookie contracts’ for emerging players.

Type of contract*

Amount

Amount (approx. in INR)

Players

Full central (2 years)

£50,000 (annual retainer fee)**

Rs 40.86 lakh

Tammy Beaumont

Katherine Brunt

Kate Cross

Georgia Elwiss

Natasha Farrant

Jenny Gunn

Alex Hartley

Danielle Hazell

Amy Jones

Heather Knight

Laura Marsh

Natalie Sciver

Anya Shrubsole

Sarah Taylor

Fran Wilson

Lauren Winfield

Danielle Wyatt

Rookie central (new introduction)

N/A

N/A

Beth Langston

*With effect from February 2017
** Estimated amount based on reports and interviews

But before 2014, England had introduced their female players to the idea of professionalism by giving them the roles of ambassadors in the then fledgling ‘Chance to Shine’ programmes, which paved the way for central contracts.

The Women’s Cricket Super League, introduced in 2016, offers an added source of income to players (the retainer amounts aren’t public). Besides, some internationals participate in the WBBL and earn retainer fees there.

Unlike in Australia, domestic players aren’t afforded the luxury of a contract. Mark Robinson, the England women’s coach, echoed this lament when the new contracts were announced. “The women’s game is growing at a real pace, but still doesn’t have the financial security that the men’s county game offers a player from the England men’s team in the event that they lose their ECB central contract.

“That said, we do still have space and freedom to grow – we have to be able to reward players at the right time – so we will continue to assess the central contracts list on an annual basis. The new level of ‘rookie’ contract also gives us greater flexibility in this respect, allowing us to financially support players who sit just above the England Women’s Senior Academy squad, but who have not quite hit the level required to win a full central contract.”

New Zealand: A three-year reward

The match fees for White Ferns are NZ$ 400 for ODIs and NZ$ 300 for T20Is. © ICC/Getty Images

The match fees for White Ferns are NZ$ 400 for ODIs and NZ$ 300 for T20Is. © ICC/Getty Images

One of two women’s teams to offer central contracts for a period of three years, the White Ferns were awarded central contracts in 2014.

Type of contract*

Amount

Amount (approx. in INR)

Players

Central (three years)

Between NZ$ 20,000 to NZ$ 34,000 (annual retainer)

Between Rs 9.21 lakh to Rs 15.67 lakh

Suzie Bates

Erin Bermingham

Sam Curtis

Sophie Devine

Holly Huddleston

Leigh Kasperek

Katey Martin

Thamsyn Newton

Morna Nielsen

Katie Perkins

Liz Perry

Rachel Priest

Hannah Rowe
Amy Satterthwaite

Lea Tahuhu

*With effect from August 2016

Besides that, match fees are NZ$ 400 for ODIs and NZ$ 300 for T20Is. Top players such as Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite supplement their income with WBBL and WCSL fees.

Despite the contracts, not all White Ferns pursue cricket full-time, balancing the sport with studies and other jobs.

Pakistan: A pioneer in contracts

Type of contract*

Amount

Amount (approx. in INR)

Players

Category A

PRs 100,000 per month

Rs 62,000

Sana Mir, Bismah Maroof, Javeria Wadood, Asmavia Iqbal Khokhar

Category B

PRs 80,000 per month

Rs 49,999

Nida Rashid, Anam Amin, Syeda Nain Fatima Abidi

Category C

PRs 60,000 per month

Rs 37,4000

Sadia Yousaf, Sidra Nawaz, Rabiya Shah, Sidra Amin, Nahida Khan, Aliya Riaz, Iram Javed, Marina Iqbal, Sania Iqbal

Category D

PRs 40,000 per month

Rs 24,990

Muneeba Ali Siddiqui, Almas Akram, Aiman Anwar, Diana Baig, Ayesha Zafar, Kainat Imtiaz

*With effect from January 1, 2016

Pakistan were among the earliest to announce central contracts for their players, with Bushra Aitzaz, the head of the women’s wing in the PCB then, championing the cause. They took the step forward in professionalising the women’s game after the gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games and a cash incentive for the players when they defended their gold in the 2014 edition. Having their contracts renewed yearly, the PCB also have the most number of contracted female cricketers: 22.

As the first Asian team to announce contracts for their players, Pakistan have bragging rights, even though their results haven’t consistently reflected it since then. Initially, 19 players were awarded central contracts in 2011; it sent out a strong message to the cricketing world and struck a blow for the rights of women in the region.

The players also get regular income from the jobs they hold with companies that participate in domestic cricket.

Unfortunately, they haven’t had an option to add to their contract payments through participation in domestic T20 leagues like the WBBL or WCSL.

India: Much delayed

India Women were the last team to introduce central contracts for the players. © ICC

India Women were the last team to introduce central contracts for the players. © ICC

 

Type of contract*

Amount

Players

Grade A (1 year)

Rs 15 lakh (annual retainer fee)

Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur, MD Thirushkamini

Grade B (1 year)

Rs 10 lakh (annual retainer)

Smriti Mandhana, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bist, Veda Krishnamurthy, Niranjana Nagarajan, Poonam Raut

*For 2015-16 season; no announcement has been made about the 2016-17 season

The curious case of the BCCI and India Women – the last team in the women’s game to introduce central contracts for their players and then forget about it? More like distracted by issues that were caused from spot-fixing, conflict of interest and the reports submitted by the Lodha Committee that effectively tied up the BCCI’s money for a while.

This could be one reason why the women’s contracts haven’t been renewed after their landmark announcement in May 2015.

The new men’s contracts were announced this month, with pay doubled across categories. When the new contracts for women are announced – and the expectation is that they will be – will efforts be made to bridge the gender wage gap?

Despite the contracts, several Indian players continue to hold jobs with Railways, the biggest employer of female cricketers in India. As a government job, it affords them stability, and time to tour and practise. As a result, Railways are a domestic powerhouse.

BCCI have made strides in correcting the poor deal the women get. In August 2016, the daily allowance for the women was brought on a par with that of the men. Recently, the CoA also decided that just as the men’s teams and their officials and staff travel by business class, the women’s team too would enjoy that luxury.

Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana, the first Indian cricketers to feature in a foreign league when they played in the second edition of the WBBL, have been able to supplement their finances with that income.

South Africa: The right steps forward

South Africa are the second team to offer central contracts to their female players for a period of three years. The first set of contracts, for six players, was announced in late 2013.

While the specific retainer amounts are not in the public domain, the contract renewals have been on the same terms as the men and prompt as well. CSA are the only board to have announced the list for the 2017-18 season (among those boards that offer yearly contract renewals).

Contracted players (with effect from April 1, 2017): Dané van Niekerk, Ayabonga Khaka, Suné Luus, Marizanne Kapp, Mignon du Preez, Shabnim Ismail, Trisha Chetty, Chloe Tryon, Lizelle Lee, Matshipi Marcia Letsoalo, Laura Wolvaardt, Masabata Klaas, Andrie Steyn, Moseline Daniels.

West Indies: Another early mover

West Indies were among the earliest to offer their women retainer contracts, with six players in two grades benefitting from October 2010. By 2014, this had increased to 11 players who had their contracts renewed on a yearly basis, and 15 in 2016.

Type of contract*

Amount

Amount (approx. in INR)

Players

Central (one year)

US$ 12,000 to US$ 30,000

Rs 7.5 lakh to Rs 19.63 lakh

Merissa Aguerilla

Shermaine Campbelle

Shamilia Connell

Britney Cooper

Shanel Daley

Deandra Dottin

Afy Fletcher

Kycia Knight

Kyshona Knight

Hayley Mathews

Anisa Mohammed

Shaquana Quintyne

Shakera Selman

Tremayne Smartt

Stafanie Taylor    

*With effect from October 1, 2016

The men, however, earn a lot more, and the disparity is something the likes of Deandra Dottin have been critical about. In October 2016, the WICB released a statement increasing the pool to 15. Top players like Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin will be earning close to US$ 40,000 (Rs 26.18 lakh approx.) with retainer fees from participating in the WBBL and the WCSL supplementing their income. The players also get sponsorship payments, match fees and allowances.

Sri Lanka too offer contracts to their female cricketers, but have not made the details public.

2017 is the year in which the UN is aiming to focus on women at work. The gender pay gap is an issue world over, and turning the women’s game professional through contracts is just the beginning in closing that gap. If Cricket Australia’s proposal goes through, it would be another significant step.