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BCCI considers contract system for India Women's team

Almost a decade after taking over governance of women's cricket in India, the BCCI has proposed to introduce annual retainers for members of the national women's team

Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
The victorious Indian team after the match, England v India, only women's Test, Wormsley, 4th day, August 16, 2014

The BCCI's finance and women's committees have proposed a substantial hike in the allowances of women's cricketers  •  Getty Images

Almost a decade after taking over governance of women's cricket in India, the BCCI has proposed the introduction of annual retainers for members of the national women's team. While the women's cricket fraternity has welcomed the move, former India captains hope this marks the beginning of reforms required for the welfare of women cricketers.
The BCCI finance committee earlier this week had discussed the prospects for the first time, and on Sunday, the women's committee put forward a concrete proposal. "On the lines of men's cricket, a contract system for international women cricketers was proposed," BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur stated in a media release.
India is the only country among the top-eight ranked women's teams that does not have annual contracts for its women cricketers. The lack of attention to women cricketers, especially towards their financial needs, was primarily due to a lack of interest in the women's game by previous regimes.
It is understood that the finance and women's committees have also proposed a substantial hike in the allowances of women's cricketers. With India languishing in the eighth position in the international rankings, the women's committee has also recommended more international fixtures.
The proposal will now be ratified by the working committee. Once it is ratified in the working committee's next meeting, the nitty-gritties, including the number of cricketers in the contract pool and amount to be offered, will be taken up. The proposal is likely to be implemented from the BCCI's next financial cycle, starting in October.
Shubhangi Kulkarni, the former India captain who was in charge of the Women's Cricket Association of India until its merger with the BCCI in 2006, welcomed the move. "It was due for a long time. Now that it has happened, I am delighted for all the girls. It will certainly motivate more young girls to take up the sport," Kulkarni told ESPNcricinfo.
Diana Edujli, another former India captain, hoped that the move will lead to the BCCI addressing other impending financial issues. "Finally, it [annual contracts] has happened. The new dispensation appears to be a little more favourable for women's cricket. The women's cricketers need more support. Hopefully they will also look into the other impending issues, including the one-time benefit for former internationals and broadening of the pension scheme to all international women cricketers."
Edulji has been fighting for women's cricketers to be included in the BCCI's one-time financial benefit scheme, which is allotted resources from the excess profit made by the Indian Premier League. The benefit scheme has reached almost 200 first-class and international cricketers. She has also been trying to get the BCCI to expand the monthly gratis to all international women cricketers, as opposed to the current rule of those who have played at least five Tests.
"A lot of these areas need to be looked into. Hopefully the BCCI involves some more women cricketers and comes up with a viable solution to all these issues," Edujli said.

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo