BANGLADESH women’s cricket team has earned another much deserved win and made its presence felt in international cricket. The team clinched the three-match T20I series against Ireland after winning the second and the penultimate game by four wickets in Dublin on Friday. They had earlier won the first T20I by four wickets at the same venue on Thursday. Earlier this month, the same team has stunned India by three wickets to win the ACC Women’s Twenty20 Asia Cup in Malaysia. Their hard earned wins made the nation proud and state managers from the speaker of the parliament to the prime minister lend voice to congratulate the team. Immediate after the Asia Cup win, the Bangladesh Cricket Board announced a cash reward of Tk 2 crore for the team, with Tk 10 lakh for each player, with possibilities of separate rewards based on individual performance. The prime minister in a festive reception handed over the cheques. While the government’s congratulatory move and one-time reward is encouraging for women’s cricket team, but what is needed is more systematic long-term support for the team.
The team that brought so much joy and pride for the nation had nothing but their undying determination and hard work with them when they chose to play for the national team. The BCB women’s wing does not have enough resources to support them financially or otherwise. Women cricket players are underpaid to the extent that the difference between the yearly salary of the highest graded women cricketers of India and Bangladesh is approximately Tk 56 lakh. Indian cricketers receive a daily payment, for their participation in domestic cricket, of Rs 12,500. Bangladesh’s cricketers get paid Tk 600 as match allowance in domestic leagues. When asked about the wage difference between men and women cricketers for the national team, authorities tried to justify the gap suggesting that the women’s team is new in the game. While it is true that the history of women’s cricket is short, it still does not justify the payment structure as low as it is now. While the pay of the 20 players in the national team was increased recently, players outside the national team do not get paid enough to devote themselves to the game. The authorities must know that to create an enabling environment for women to continually take cricket as a profession, they need to financially incentivise women’s participation.
Nationally women’s sport is a neglected domain in Bangladesh. Although women occupy some of the highest seats in the government, women in sports are not adequately supported. To create a self-sustainable structure, the BCB needs to work on developing age-level cricket and create a scope for women to join cricket. It needs to form a good domestic structure by encouraging players outside the national team.
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