English Cricket’s Multi-Million Plan to Boost Female Game
Clare Connor, the national director of the England and Wales Cricket Board recently announced the board’s intention and plan to invest a starting sum of twenty-million-pound over a two-year period to boost and radically overhaul women’s cricket.
The investment comes at a time of unprecedented development of the professional game across the board, with the money spinning 20-20 format and soon to be launched ‘The Hundred’ foremat on the frontline. Alongside, technological developments are keeping cricket lovers more informed than ever, including the popular stumped.app/.
Dubbed ‘Inspiring Generations’, the 10-point restructuring ambitiously seeks to encourage younger women to take up the sport in order to assist the organisation increase the amount of women playing the sport professionally, thereby making the sport more gender balanced.
To this, the director noted that their intention is to use these funds to sustain 40-fulltime contracts, which together with constantly-funded contracts of the 21 England women’s national cricket team, will significantly increase the number of professionally contracted female cricket players.
The director additionally mentioned that their action plan, which has five primary objectives: participation, pathway, performance, profile, and people, and borne out of 25 months of involved consultation, is in line with what other countries such as Australia did to boost female participation —the country now has over one hundred women playing professional cricket.
She added to this by noting that the board’s aim is to “give talented female cricketers the visibility and opportunities they need to progress through the cricket playing system until they start earning professional cricket salaries.”
Following thorough consultations with all counties and Cricket Wales, the board settled on the ‘Inspiring Generations’ plan because it has proven to help other countries such as Australia develop the future stars of professional female cricket, and because as Clare Connor puts it, “it shall also add fuel to an already fast-paced drive to close the collective gap.”
Closing the existing pay and ratio disparity between male and female cricketers has been a source of criticism for the board, with report findings published in 2017 showing that the average ECB male player earns 38% more than a female player.
“Encouraging more females take up the sport”
The ECB offers male and female players seven salary bands. The lowest paid ECB female cricketer receives a salary of £3,000 while the lowest paid male cricketer receives £30,000. This salary disparity is primarily because of the ratio of professional male to female cricketers.
Clare Connor notes that one of the board’s primary aim is to transform women’s cricket encouraging more women and girls to take up the sport, thus closing the gender parity, and by shifting from a system that adopts standalone programs to an all-inclusive system that inspires women to join the sport because their pathway from semi-professional to professional cricket is clear.
She also said that the board intends to offer female cricketers industry-competitive salaries in the hopes that it shall inspire young girls to play because they can see a clear career trajectory. By making the path to professional cricket easier, the board hopes to bridge the gender disparity in terms of salaries and male to female cricketers’ ratio.
To give their plan the steam it needs to pan out and bear results, the ECB boards intends to invest £50m into women’s cricket in the next five years with their primary focus being to use their performance objective to facilitate talent development at club level.