The opening game of this tournament was held where only one group would be playing, miles from any other side, and against a team that doesn’t draw a crowd.
In the first four days of the tournament no major sides played each other.
The group stages are pointless as shown by the fact that West Indies didn’t complete a match and still progressed.
And this tournament is looking more and more likely not to be shaped by mystery spinners and top order sloggers, but by the rainy season.
TV presenters, experts, writers and people in lounge rooms and bars across the cricket world have talked a lot about these errors from the ICC.
The biggest mistake so far in the tournament was far easier to fix and spot than any of the above, it was someone’s decision to pay women cricketers less than men’s cricketers in their daily allowance.
There is no way that was ever going to be looked upon well if it got out. Basically because there is no way of saying the men, who are all well paid fully professional cricketers, need an extra US$40 a day than the nearly exclusively amateur women cricketers.
Brand Dhoni is worth over 50 million dollars. The Sri Lanka women’s team were drafted into the armed forces so they could afford to continue to play cricket.
There’s no doubt that women’s cricket is funded by the men’s game. Women’s cricket is an amateur sport. As such it’s not taken as seriously as it should be. It can’t get on TV enough because it’s not seen as a high quality or popular sport, and it can’t become professional without the money that sport gets from being TV. It’s trapped in dependency.
For many reasons, women’s cricket has not been taken seriously by all the cricket countries, some cultural, and some financial.
The English women are quickly becoming professional, with Australia not far behind, the New Zealand team has always been strong and India has some of the best players on earth. For too long these four teams have been far too good for the other sides. Now that may be changing. West Indies is building a very strong side and South Africa have started winning games. Women’s cricket may finally have proper competition at the upper levels.
But it’s in India that shows you how far it has to go.
Sania Mirza, the tennis player, has never won a grand slam in singles, she has never been beyond the fourth round in a grand slam. Her ranking has never been higher than No. 27 in singles or No. 7 in doubles. Her greatest achievement is winning the mixed doubles at the Australian and French Opens.
Mithali Raj is the world’s No. 1 ranked ODI batsman, she’s No. 3 in T20 cricket (formerly No. 1). Her Test batting average is 52, in ODI cricket it’s 47 and in T20 it’s 34. She lives in the most cricket crazy place on earth. And is less famous, respected and adulated than Sania Mirza by the population at large.
That’s because women’s tennis does make its own money, it is professional and people take it seriously. Women’s cricket is none of these at the moment.
That doesn’t mean things can’t change. It is ironic that moronic mistakes like paying two different rates for per diems is what sometimes start to changes things, but giving the women US$100 a day instead of US$60 is not going to change the larger issues of how to grow women’s cricket. Until women’s cricket is a viable TV option, the prize money and wages are never going to be anything close to equal.
Right now the women’s tournament is underway. The group stage is being played in Galle and not shown on TV. The only reporters who are covering it are the ones who have travelled here for that alone. There are not many of those. In Kandy and Colombo there are many cricket fans and media who have little to do on days between cricket. Had the women not been hidden away until the semi-final stage they could have got bigger crowds and more coverage, instead of enjoying the beaches of Galle.
Many people abuse or laugh at women’s cricket, but I love it. The relative lack of power in the batting means a much more pure form of cricket. This also brings out the strategy from the captains a lot more. Suzie Bates and Charlotte Edwards are masters of manipulation. I saw seven matches at the World T20 in the UK, and my strongest memories are of Stuart Broad failing to field in the last over against Netherlands, and Claire Taylor’s surgery of Australia’s fielders in the women’s semi-final.
Women cricketers are playing the game simply because they love it; not for financial rewards or fame, but because they simply want to be the best they can and represent their country in the sport they love. They often have to leave the game early because they simply can’t afford to continue to play.
If Mithali Raj was a male cricketer she wouldn’t need that extra US$40 a day. But since tuk tuk drivers and restaurants don’t offer 40% off for women cricketers, neither should the ICC.