• Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022
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High time to focus on women’s cricket

  • Published at 02:21 pm June 10th, 2018
  • Last updated at 02:24 pm June 10th, 2018
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Bangladesh women celebrate after winning the Asia Cup final against India in Kuala Lumpur Sunday

English cricketers earn around 22 times more than a Bangladesh player while an Australian cricketer collects almost 32 times more than a woman in red and green

When Bangladesh team left Dhaka last month for the ACC Women’s Asia Cup T20I 2018, the fans back home expected the side to put on a decent performance. Bangladesh had just completed their tour of South Africa where the visiting side were whitewashed in both the ODI and T20I series. This was Bangladesh’s first international assignment in 14 months, and first T20I in 18 months.

Bangladesh T20I captain Salma Khatun expressed hope of playing at least the final. However, the Bangladesh women, whose facilities are nowhere near to those of the men’s team, created history by lifting their maiden major tournament trophy. This is also Bangladesh’s first ever multi-nation cricket title, men or women.

Bangladesh needed two of the last ball chasing 113 runs and the two batters, with Jahanara Alam on strike, ran as if their lives were at stake. The action ended with a dive from Jahanara while the team and the supporters at Kinrara Oval in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia burst into celebration. Back home, the whole nation was on its feet, while the men’s team, who were glued to the TV in the dressing room at Mirpur Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka, celebrated wildly.

The historic achievement came riding on five consecutive wins, including two against six-time Asia Cup champion India - one in the league phase and the second in the final. Bangladesh made a disappointing start to the Asia Cup, losing their first game to Sri Lanka, but bounced back amazingly. The women in red and green started the winning streak defeating Pakistan, and followed it up by winning against India, Thailand and Malaysia.

The three-wicket win against India, who lost the final of the World Cup last year, in the cliffhanger was nothing but a wild dream coming true for the No 9 ranked Bangladesh. Bangladesh first restricted India to 112 with a brilliant bowling effort, led by ODI skipper Rumana Ahmed and spinner Khadija-tul Kubra, before chasing down the target, boosted by top-order batter Nigar Sultana’s courageous 24-ball 27, featuring four boundaries.  

“We were confident of winning this game. We had the ambition of playing well, given that it is the final. We had nothing to lose but they (India) had a lot to lose. We had a lot to gain and we have done it,” said an emotional Salma following the game yesterday.

Following the victory, the onus now lies with the BCB. If the men’s team’s win in the 1997 ICC Trophy over Kenya, also held in Kuala Lumpur, was a breakthrough, the women’s side’s Asia Cup success should also be treated the same. 

Since the ICC Trophy, the BCB has worked hard to improve the men’s team and the players reacted well.  Similarly, the women also deserve better care. The board last month recruited an international support staff, including a head coach from India in the shape of former cricketer Anju Jain. And the results have been astonishing. 

Now that the girls have proven their worth, and grabbed all the attention of the cricketing world, the time is just right for the BCB women’s wing to step up. Arrangement of better facilities, and accommodation, along with more international cricket should be a must. Domestic tournaments till date have never been regular so the board has to look into that too.

Coming into the fee structure, one cannot compare the women to what the men are paid, bearing in mind that it is the men’s team which have been attracting the lion’s share of revenue for the board. But considering the current situation, there is a huge room for the BCB to improve the fee structure of the girls.

The BCB is currently enjoying a huge financial windfall through a larger share of the ICC revenue of $132m in the 2015-2023 rights cycle, and also from the national team sponsorship rights, with a base price of Tk60 crores for two years – now on the verge of an extension for another six months. 

But these figures do not reflect in the fee arrangements for the women. Currently, the highest paid women cricketers get around Tk10,000 as match fee. Whereas in a year, a male cricketer earns around Tk10m, without a central contract. A top woman cricketer collects around Tk7-8 lakhs and on most cases, is the only bread earner in the family. An Indian cricketer earns around 18 times more than a Bangladesh woman player. English cricketers earn around 22 times more than a Bangladesh player while an Australian cricketer collects almost 32 times more than a woman in red and green.

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