BCCI announces win bonuses for all players December 23, 2006

Women's team gets significant boost



Mithali Raj can pop the champagne in right earnest now ... the women's team is getting the rewards they have earned © Getty Images
In the slew of announcements and news that appeared from the working committee meeting of the Board of Control for Cricket in India emerged one vital snippet that should not go unnoticed. For the first time in its history the BCCI is taking its role in the development of women's cricket seriously, and has announced that each player who was part of the women's team that beat England and then won the Asia Cup would receive a bonus of Rs. One lakh (US$2000).

While that does not seem like a lot given what their male counterparts earn, it is a significant sum for members of the women's team, who barely earned anything from their victories. In the past, while the Women's Cricket Association of India, run, for all practical purposes, by Shubhangi Kulkarni, a former Indian captain, did not register losses, they did not have the luxury of paying their cricketers well.

Women's teams stayed in dormitories and modest hotels and received little in way of match fees, and only on the odd occasion, through sponsorship support, did they receive daily allowances. But, after the ICC laid down a deadline for all cricket boards to merge their men's and women's administrative bodies, slowly but surely, a change came about. Kulkarni, secretary of the women's association, had met Jagmohan Dalmiya, the then BCCI president, about a merger, but nothing came of it.

Currently the new regime of the BCCI has worked towards appointing committees to oversee women's cricket in India at various levels, incorporating existing officials of the women's association. A significant step forward came when India toured England and each member of the women's team received a daily allowance of US$50 per day, which is on par with what the men's team receives.

When the side embarked on their 40-day tour of England, each was handed travellers' cheques and currency worth £1100 (US$ 2000), an unheard of thing in women's cricket. Interestingly, Nike, who are the kit sponsors of the men's team, were willing to extend their support to the women's team, but could not do so as the Women's Cricket Association of India had a pre-existing deal with Sahara until December 2007.

When the women's team toured England they drew the first Test at Grace Road, Leicester. Then they came back with a five-wicket win, to take their first-ever series win in England. Mithali Raj, the captain, and Anjum Chopra, the left-hand bat, starred in a first-innings score of 307. Jhulan Goswami, the fast bowler, then took 5 for 33 and reduced England to 99 all out. Following-on England made 305 thanks to a century from Charlotte Edwards, but India knocked off the required runs with five wickets to spare.

Even then it was suggested to Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president, that the team be given a bonus of some sort. But he preferred to wait for the Asia Cup and club the two, and his faith in women's team paid off. India easily beat Sri Lanka in the final, restricting them to 93 before knocking off the required runs with eight wickets to spare. Now, the Indian women have got the rewards they deserve.

Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo