Even as women across the globe awaited International Women’s Day, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), with its revised pay structure for 2017-18, announced on Wednesday, made it obvious who it was batting for. Also Read - Cricket Australia Confirms Full Series Against India, Announces Summer Schedule For 2020-21 Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The new contract system and compensation structure for Indian cricket reek of gender bias. While the fee structure of senior men cricketers, put in the A+ grade, would be Rs 7 crore annually, there is no senior woman cricketer who made the cut. Top women cricketers like Mithali Raj are placed in Grade A but there too, the remuneration is about 7 per cent of what their men counterparts would make. Clearly, for BCCI, choriyaan chhoro se kamm hain… Also Read - Wicketkeepers Need to be Given More Consistent Run in Indian Cricket Team: Parthiv Patel

As per the new contract system, the cricketers in the A+ grade, are Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. When it comes to women cricketers, the package is no less than shocking. Grade A women cricketers — Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana found a place along with Mithali— would get Rs 50 lakh each annually. For those placed in Grade C, it gets as low as Rs 10 lakh per annum. Also Read - I Would Have Loved to Play Against Virat Kohli, Right Guy to Lead Indian Cricket Forward: Ian Botham

In the year 2006, when the Women’s Cricket Association of India (WICA) was merged with the BCCI, we had hoped that things would look up for the women’s cricket team; more matches will be organised for the team, which holds enough capabilities to be Word No. 1. This is also something which India skipper Mithali Raj has pointed out several times.

“We just get to play one or two series [throughout the year]. It gets very difficult for a player to sustain the momentum. We usually play one at the start of the year and one at the end of the year. That’s a huge gap for any player to sustain good form. In four series, a male cricketer becomes an experienced player. In contrast, it takes a much longer time for a woman because we play very less matches,” she had said.

However, even after repeated pokes, the BCCI refuses to address valid concerns.

Sports ought to be a level playing field, where every individual is judged on the basis of his/her last performance. It is sad that we are talking about gender bias in the 21st century. That it has to happen on International Women’s Day makes it all the more ironic.

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