Clare Connor, the former England Women captain who now heads the International Cricket Council’s women’s committee, has urged cricket bodies around the world to follow Australia’s lead and raise wages for women players to stop them leaving the sport.
“We are all going to think very seriously of how well our players are remunerated,” said Connor on Thursday, while insisting that other countries must match Australia’s eight-fold increase in wages. “Because if we don’t look after them they will go and choose other sports or other professions and that will be a tragedy.”
The Women’s World Cup 2017 earlier this year was hailed as a breakthrough for the women’s game, with packed grounds and high TV ratings recorded around the globe. But many players have said that there has to be a follow-up from the cricket bosses to keep the growth rate up.
Cricket Australia’s new pay deal ensured a windfall for their women players, whose total payments have increased from $A 7.5 million to a whopping $A 55.2 million.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India, the world’s richest cricket body, have also promised an increase in salary for women players, but no official details have been announced yet.
“Obviously the men get in significant commercial revenues to the game. We are just starting out on our journey, hence there is a lot of discrepancy or difference how players are paid in various corners of the globe,” pointed out Connor.
Meanwhile, Tony Irish, the chief executive of the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, has suggested that the women’s game was at risk from match-fixers, who often prey on players on low pay.
“They (Australia) are certainly setting the bar very high and this is a key issue for lots of countries,” acknowledged Connor. “It is amazing that international women can earn that sort of money. (India) have got a team that has captured the imagination and they have obviously got huge number of girls that could be attracted to the game as a result.”
In what is now a packed women’s calendar, the second edition of the World Championships started this week with an ODI series between Windies and Sri Lanka. The championships will act as the qualifiers for the 2021 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand, while the Women’s World Twenty20 will take place in the Caribbean in November next year.
Connor said the first world championships from 2014-2016 deserved “great credit for a significant rise in performance standards that was on show in the women’s World Cup”.
She added that ICC meetings in Auckland this week would “look at the strategy for the women’s game to grow it and to ensure that we have got more competitive teams than just the strong top eight”. “I think the right ambition is that it should be as easy or as accessible for a girl to pick up a cricket bat as it is for a boy to pick up a cricket bat,” said Connor.