February 22, 2023
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether the Women’s Premier League will be a turning point in women’s cricket. We also look at doctors wearing khadi in Kerala, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Women’s Premier League: A turning point in women’s cricket?
On 13 February, when investors piled in during the Women’s Premier League (WPL) auction, it was lauded as a watershed moment in women’s cricket. Women cricketers, who until last year were facing a severe pay disparity, bagged hefty contracts at the bidding. The journey to this moment has been fraught with gendered impediments, but the players have stuck it out.
Some argue that the WPL will give impetus to women cricketers across India. Others remain unconvinced because of the sluggish pace at which the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Indian government have introduced reforms in the sport. How much promise does the Premier League event hold for women beyond the WPL cohort?
Historians have often argued that feats in cricket have valuable insights into a country’s social currents. What began as a sport for transporting British values to colonies became a field for challenging colonial power and asserting Indian masculinity. The popularity of men’s cricket in India also propelled the nation to confront its social barriers.
The history of women’s professional cricket dates back to the late 1960s, before which cricket was not just a male-dominated sport but a sport for men. In 1969, Aloo Bamjee, a member of the Cricket Club of India (CCI), started a cricket club for girls called the Albees. A few kilometres away, in Sion, Nutan Gavaskar, Neeta Telang and other women founded the Indian Gymkhana.
The BCCI took over women’s cricket in 2006, improving their access to better grounds to play in and more international visibility. But the glaring disparity between men’s and women’s cricket was evident in their pay disparity and the number of games played. Both problems persisted until 2022.
The sluggish growth of the sport was not due to negligence but rather a system of rampant discrimination. In 2011, N Srinivasan, former President of the BCCI, said to the former India skipper Diana Edulji that if he were to have his way, he wouldn’t let women’s cricket happen.
In the last few years, the sport’s progress has picked up not only on the ground but in viewership numbers too. On 8 March 2020, history was created when the Indian women’s cricket team took on Australia in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup finals. Despite the women in blue bearing a loss on the ground, women’s cricket triumphed. The match amassed a viewership of 1.78 billion viewing minutes in India, 59 times more than the 2018 T20 finale.
In 2022, the Women’s Cricket World Cup amassed 1.64 billion views, opening the doors for higher sponsorship for women’s cricket. The same year, the Indian women won the Asia Cup for the seventh time. They were awarded approximately ₹16,48,000 while Sri Lanka, winners of the Men’s Asia Cup, took home ₹1,59,53,000. Pakistan, the runners-up in the men’s event, were awarded ₹79,66,000.
Pay disparity is a severe problem back home too. Last year, the BCCI announced a pay equity policy through which women players at the international level will receive the same match fees as men across all formats. The equity policy did not, however, apply to the retainership payment system of the players.
The announcement of the WPL, then, provided a positive outlook for women cricketers to stick with the sport. Women’s cricket fans cheered on as large franchises picked up some of the giants in the women’s cricket team. While women’s cricket has gained momentum with the latest developments, let’s discuss the scope of change the WPL may carry.
VIEW: Far-reaching effects on women’s cricket
The WPL is a landmark moment for increasing women’s opportunities to play for India and etch out a successful career in the sport. Former Indian captain Mithali Raj argues that the WPL will incentivise women to tough it out in the sport. In the past, women would have had shorter career trajectories because of fewer opportunities to play for the country. The T20 event changes that.
Under-recognised, deserving players now have the option to pursue cricket and showcase their skills despite not being a part of the national team. For the first time, many young women have the opportunity to play cricket for higher stakes.
At the auction, five teams picked up 87 cricketers. The inaugural bidding for the franchise league broke the records of the inaugural men’s Indian Premier League (IPL) auction in 2008, with Smriti Mandhana bagging a ₹3.4 crore bid.
It is no secret that the IPL revolutionised cricket viewership by turning a long-winded sport into a thrilling three-hour battle between Indian cities. Its Superbowl-like format appealed to new audiences, and the same will likely happen for WPL. This spotlight on women’s cricket can encourage the BCCI to fast-track its gender reforms and sensitise the average Indian viewer to encourage girls’ ambitions to become sportspersons.
Moving beyond the WPL, the franchise league’s introduction has also caught the attention of advertisers, amplifying their interest in sponsoring women’s cricket. Multiple FMCG brands, popular gaming companies, and women-centric brands are now considering supporting women’s cricket tournaments like the World Cup.
COUNTERVIEW: Need to build on this momentum
There is no doubt that the WPL is a historic move for women’s cricket in India. However, there are limitations to what the WPL event can achieve for the sport if the BCCI and Indian government do not capitalise on this momentum.
The BCCI is the richest cricket body in the world. It has financially empowered state cricket associations in India that could fast-track women’s cricket into an equitable sport with more opportunities to play. The WPL will have a broader impact on women’s cricket once all branches of cricket administration move with it like a well-oiled machine.
The WPL auction should be an eye-opener on how uninformed India is about women cricketers. Investors with money in the game included. Consider how the Gujarat Giants were about to bag Mahika Gaur after reaching their quota of six internationals, failing to recognise that the 16-year-old plays for the UAE, not India. In another such instance, Yastika Bhatia’s bidding began at ₹30 lakh despite her base price being ₹40 lakh.
The WPL’s commercial bend is evident in the absence of preceding drafts which, in the IPL, allow for an even distribution of talent. Neglecting the procedure allowed higher bids, which despite some of its benefits, could reduce the competitiveness that makes IPL thrilling and widely favoured in the first place.
In India, women’s cricket currently has several concrete hurdles. Women are still playing less and earning lesser than men. The difference in their retainership is massive. Grade A women cricketers are paid ₹50 lakh, Grade B ₹30 lakh and Grade C cricketers ₹10 lakh. Men cricketers receive between ₹7 crore and ₹1 crore from the highest to the lowest grade.
- From representation to building an audience: How are women-centric sport faring in 2022 – Hindustan Times
- When Indian women started playing cricket – The Telegraph
- Adani highest bidder amongst ₹4669.99 cr worth bids in WPL – Mint
- Women’s Premier League Auction: The imperfect execution of a perfect opportunity – Sportscafe
- It’s not about money, it’s about will: Why women’s cricket in India is lagging behind – Scroll
- Equal pay for men and women cricketers: How BCCI’s policy compares with other countries, sports – The Indian Express
What is your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) Women’s Premier League is a turning point in women’s cricket.
b) Women’s Premier League is not a turning point in women’s cricket.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
JP Nadda trying to achieve what Modi couldn’t — bringing BJP MPs to heel
For the Left:
Adani, Rafale, Pegasus and the Question of What Concerns the Indian Voter
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Bike taxi services banned (New Delhi) – The Delhi government has announced a ban on ride-hailing services such as Ola, Uber, and Rapido bike services, citing violation of the Motor Vehicles Act and flouting of government rules. The government has stated that these services are operating without a valid license and are compromising the safety and security of passengers. The bans are only for bike taxi services and not for auto-rickshaw or four-wheelers.
Why it matters: The ban has significant implications for commuters in Delhi who rely on these services for their daily transportation needs. With public transportation options limited, the ban on these services could lead to increased congestion on the roads and a lack of affordable and convenient transportation options for the public. Moreover, the ban may have an adverse impact on the livelihoods of the drivers who rely on these platforms for their income.
Doctors wear khadi (Kerala) – Doctors and medicos in Kerala have started wearing khadi board overcoats instead of traditional white coats during their duty hours. The move is in response to the increasing concerns about the spread of infections due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why it matters: The decision to wear khadi board overcoats is significant as it is made from a natural fabric that is believed to have antibacterial properties and is also more comfortable to wear for long hours. The move also aligns with the government’s efforts to promote the use of khadi and support the local handloom industry. It is a positive step towards creating a more sustainable and healthy future for both patients and healthcare workers.
Bill to protect Nomira (Odisha) – A new bill will soon be passed in the Odisha Legislative Assembly that seeks to protect the geological wonder at Nomira, a site in the Ganjam district of Odisha. The site is home to a unique geological formation that resembles a giant foot, attracting tourists and scientists from around the world. The geological wonder has been under threat due to illegal mining and quarrying in the area, causing damage to the formation and endangering the ecosystem.
Why it matters: The passing of this bill will be significant as it highlights the importance of preserving natural wonders and protecting the environment. It also showcases the role that local communities and activists can play in raising awareness about environmental issues and advocating for their protection. By protecting such sites, we can ensure that future generations have access to the same wonders and natural resources that we do, creating a more sustainable and equitable world for all.
Dholera to get semiconductor manufacturing unit (Gujarat) – According to reports, Vedanta and Foxconn have announced a partnership to establish India’s first semiconductor manufacturing facility in the Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR) in Gujarat. The facility would produce electronic components that are currently being imported into the country, and it is also expected to generate employment opportunities and boost the electronics manufacturing industry in India.
Why it matters: The partnership aligns with the government’s vision of making India a global manufacturing hub and reducing the country’s dependence on imported goods. With India being one of the largest importers of electronic components in the world, this move has the potential to boost domestic production, reduce costs, and create a more self-reliant economy. It can also encourage other tech giants to set up manufacturing facilities in India, creating a more competitive and diverse market.
President Murmu’s speech (Arunachal Pradesh) – The President of India, Droupadi Murmu, made a statement regarding the important role that the state of Arunachal Pradesh plays in the social and economic development of the country. She highlighted the state’s natural resources, including its forests, water resources, and mineral reserves, as well as its strategic location on the border with China.
Why it matters: The statement is important for the people of Arunachal Pradesh, as it recognises the state’s potential and highlights the unique contributions that it can make to the country’s development. This can help to build a sense of pride and identity among the people of the state and encourage them to participate in the development process actively. Also, by acknowledging the important role that the state plays in the country’s development, the government is signalling its intention to invest in the region and support its growth.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
9 – Nine Indian states are among the most vulnerable in the world due to climate change. These include Punjab, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Kerala and Assam.