England women cricketers are set to receive equal match fees as their male counterparts from their upcoming series against Sri Lanka.
The decision, made by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), signifies a significant step towards recognizing the increasing appeal of women's sports.
This move also incorporates a pivotal recommendation outlined in the landmark report released by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) in June.
The ECB joins a nationwide movement, following the footsteps of the Football Association, which introduced equal pay for all male and female athletes for every appearance in January 2020. On an international scale, both New Zealand and India have adopted the policy of equal pay for all cricketers in 2022.
England's pay-parity structure will take effect immediately, with the women players taking part in the T20 series against Sri Lanka from Thursday being compensated on par with their male counterparts who are playing the T20 series against New Zealand.
The recently issued report by the ICEC investigated discrimination within the sport, focusing on factors of race, gender, and class. One of the notable conclusions drawn was that “women receive an embarrassingly small amount compared to men”.
The commission presented credible evidence indicating that, between 2022-23, the average salary for England's women players was a mere 20.6% of the average salary earned by their male counterparts participating in white-ball cricket. It's worth noting that the ECB contested this statistic, estimating the women's pay as 30%.
The report demanded immediate parity in match fees, and also called for comprehensive equality in various remuneration forms, including average salaries, by the year 2028.
The ECB's decision is primarily a result of the commercial triumph achieved during this year's captivating women's Ashes series. Drawing the attention of over 110,000 viewers, the series witnessed capacity crowds in Taunton, Bristol, and Hampshire, while also breaking attendance records for women's international matches at iconic venues like Edgbaston, the Oval, and Lord's.
Huge disparity for England women
There still remains a huge disparity in the women's and men's Hundred, however. While the maximum salary for the women's players in the competition is 31,250 GBP, the men can earn up to 125,000 GBP.
Speaking on the development, England women's captain Heather Knight said, “It’s mad when you look back to 2010 when I started, we barely got expenses.
“To now be in a position to be professional and earn a decent living from the game is obviously really pleasing. It’s a reward for what’s been a remarkable summer.
“The Ashes felt like a real watershed moment. This is following on from that and just another progression. It’s really pleasing but hopefully there are more things down the line that will continue to improve.”