New Delhi: When the world in marking International Women's Day (March 8), the pay package announcement by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) depicts an unequal journey for the 'women in blue'.
A glance at the new payment structure and contract list of the senior men and women cricketers issued by the BCCI on Wednesday tells the full story. You can see the yawning gap between the contract of the men's team and those of the women. The annual contracts are for the period from October 2017 to September 2018.
The batting troika of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, and Shikhar Dhawan along with pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah were selected for the A+ category, which will ensure them annual contracts worth Rs seven crore each.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and R Ashwin have been bracketed in the A category along with Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Wridhhiman Saha. These seven players would be eligible for a contract of Rs five crore each.
The B category will feature KL Rahul, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Hardik Pandya, Ishant Sharma and Dinesh Karthik. In Grade C will be Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Karun Nair, Suresh Raina, Parthiv Patel and Jayant Yadav. The grade B category contracts are worth Rs three crore, while those in Grade C are of Rs one crore.
However, when it comes to the women cricketers, the paltry pay package is shocking, to say the least.
Among the women, World Cup stars Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana's annual contract is worth Rs 50 lakh. And this is when these top-notch cricketers have been kept in the highest grade.
Poonam Yadav, Veda Krishnamurthy, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Ekta Bisht, Shikha Pandey, Deepti Sharma are in grade B and will be given Rs 30 lakhs per annum. Those in grade C will get Rs 10 lakhs.
Clearly, the women who reached the finals of the women's World Cup in 2017 and ended runners-up, winning the hearts of millions of Indians are not good enough for the BCCI.
No wonder then, Diana Edulji, one of the pioneering woman cricketers of India and a former India captain, who represented India between 1976 and 1993, had called BCCI's treatment of women cricketers as an 'insult'.
"The BCCI is running women's cricket because they have to run it," she had said in an interview to espncricinfo.com in 2013.
Sadly, since then till now, not much seems to have changed. Guess, it's still a long way to go when men and women can be called 'equal' in the real sense of the term.