Updated: Aug 22, 2019
Where straightforwardness never has a chance of working, crookedness flourishes or in a little formal way, when traditional methods don’t yield results, try to be Innovative. New Zealand Cricket Board did the same. Despite facing recurring financial challenges and reporting a loss of NZ$ 10 million in 2017, the Board has never let its stakeholders suffer a huge hit. Rather their proactiveness towards the development of Women’s Cricket has been winning accolades across the cricketing fraternity.
New Zealand, whose Women’s Cricket team has never reached the semi-finals of any of the World event in past ten years, realised they need to invest at the right place where it matters the most and yield some long term results. Being the hosts of the next Women’s World Cup, New Zealand Cricket board understands the responsibility on its shoulders, so rather than going traditional, they tried something innovative, something no cricket board has ever done this in the history of world cricket - Introduction of central contracts for domestic players.
Let’s understand it better
In an effort towards development of Women’s Cricket in New Zealand, their board New Zealand Cricket (NZC) and New Zealand Cricket Players Association (NZCPA) agreed on a new MoU. The potential features of this agreement include an almost double pay for the centrally contracted players and a triple of the earlier number of players in the centrally contracted pool including domestic cricketers.
According to the aforementioned agreement, the number of centrally contracted players have increased from 15 to 79. This includes 17 players from the national team, nine players from each of the six associations and eight players from the Development squad, taking the total number of contracted players to 79. A more than fivefold increase.
The top 17 players will earn a minimum of NZ$ 44,000 (counting match fees and allowances, they can earn upto NZ$ 80,000, up from a maximum of NZ$ 48,000). Eight development squad players will receive NZ$ 7,500 each for participating in the High Performance System and two domestic competitions. The 54 players (from six associations) will earn NZ$ 3,250 for their participation in New Zealand’s two domestic competitions. The gap is significant but, a welcome move for those who were not earning much.
Structure across the World
Neither England nor Australia have any such system in place. Only two professional Women T20 leagues across the world - Super League in England and Women’s Big Bash League in Australia - are the last resorts for professional players. WBBL has helped a long way in developing Australian players. Apart from that, the system is still amateur across the world. It is still up to states to pay them. The cricketing countries don’t have a large pool of centrally contracted women players.
Even, BCCI does not directly pay the domestic players (Men or Women). Surprisingly, players also don’t sign any contracts with the State Associations. They are paid compensation on match to match basis. In the revised payment model, men earn up to Rs 35,000 per day whereas women get Rs 12,500. It varies from age group to age group and format to format.
A handsome sum, yes but, there aren’t enough matches for women in a single season. A woman cricketer in India gets a minimum of 14 match days in a year whereas their male counterparts get a minimum of 46 days which is even more than triple the amount of days.
What BCCI can do?
Barring few associations, there is hardly any State Association which is willing to take a step forward and put in place a plan to invest in Women’s cricket in India. There is no development whatsoever. No timely camps, no proper planning for the upcoming season, not enough access to the resources, nothing. In such a situation, BCCI can devise a structure in association with the proposed Indian Cricketers Association (ICA). They can take it forward and implement what New Zealand Cricket has done with its women cricketers. It would be a shame to say that it is not financially viable.
A better pool of players will always augur well for the country going into the major world events. There is lot to look after in upcoming years as cricket is going global with Commonwealth Games 2022. What if this trick worked out well and we could be part of ‘Olympic Gold’ in Cricket.