Why is Women's Cricket not gaining popularity in India?

Why is Women
Highlights

Coming from a land of cricket lovers, India has established almost demi-god status to the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and now Virat Kohli. 

Coming from a land of cricket lovers, India has established almost demi-god status to the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and now Virat Kohli.

Be it the tours, practice sessions, brand endorsements or their personal lives, everything gets covered by the media. However, this idolisation doesn't seem to appear for the Indian women’s cricket team who have been living in the shadows of the men's team.

Even India women's cricket team skipper Mithali Raj admitted to the disparaging comparison and asserted that female cricketers should not be compared to their male counterparts.

This subject once again rose to the fore when Mithali Raj was asked who her favourite men's cricketer was during the opening dinner and media roundtable event of the Women's World Cup 2017.

She, however, pointed out the difference and was quoted saying, "Do you ask the same question to a male cricketer? Do you ask them who their favourite female cricketer is? I have always been asked who's your favourite cricketer but you should ask them who their favourite female cricketer is."

ESPNcricinfo quoted her as saying, "There's a lot of difference because we are not a regular on television. Now the BCCI has made an effort that the last two home series have been televised and social media has improved a lot of it but there is a still a lot of catch-up to do in terms of recognition."

Despite the women's team achieving tremendous results and placing themselves at the top positions several times, the women cricketers still struggle to garner publicity.

For a country that takes pride in treating cricket as a religion, surprisingly, not many are even aware of the names of the cricketers in the women’s team.

Time to know the India squad:

Mithali Raj (C), Ekta Bisht, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Jhulan Goswami, Mansi Joshi, Harmanpreet Kaur, Veda Krishnamurthy, Smriti Mandhana, Mona Meshram, Shikha Pandey, Poonam Yadav, Nuzhat Parween, Punam Raut, Deepti Sharma. Sushma Verma (WK)

If we flip the pages of history of cricket, the male Indian team started playing officially International cricket from 1932, while women's team had started in 1976. With cricket known as a gentleman's game, the persistence of this mindset still lingers around.

However, from the first ever match Indian women’s team in the test match series against West Indies in 1976 to India's top form in the ICC World Cup 2017 that is currently taking place in England, the team has shown a lot of promise including bagging four Asia Cups.

Below are some of the major imbalances between the two teams -

During the match telecasts, men's cricket matches have a greater percentage of viewers when compared to women's cricket. Even the women’s cricket World Cup telecast doesn't garner a lot of attention which might be due to the lack of regular telecasts and updates on television or even through media.

When telecast, men’s cricket has a greater percentage of viewers than even a women’s cricket World Cup telecast. Compared to other countries, India doesn’t give its women’s cricket team the attention it deserves. This scenario can be certainly be changed by rewarding the team on par with the men’s team. Also, if media gives regular telecasts and updates, our Indian women’s cricket team will get its due recognition.

Coming to the salaries, the huge contrast can be seen among the two teams.

Indian Women's Team

Type of contract Amount

Grade A (1 year) Rs 15 lakh (annual retainer fee)

Players

Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur, MD Thirushkamini

Type of contract Amount

Grade B (1 year) Rs 10 lakh (annual retainer)

Players

Smriti Mandhana, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Poonam Yadav, Ekta Bist, Veda Krishnamurthy, Niranjana Nagarajan, Poonam Raut

Indian Men's Team:

Type of contract Amount

Grade A Rs 2 crore

Players

Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay and Cheteshwar Pujara

Type of contract Amount

Grade B Rs 1 crore

Players

Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Wriddhiman Saha, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuvraj Singh.

Type of contract Amount

Grade C Rs 50 lakh

Players

Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Amit Mishra, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Karun Nair, Hardik Pandya, Ashish Nehra, Kedar Jadhav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Parthiv Patel, Jayant Yadav, Mandeep Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, Shardul Thakur, Rishabh Pant.

Brand Endorsements -

While most of the male cricketers are involved in some of the major brand endorsements, when it comes to women cricketers, there is no such luck there. Women players also need this kind of publicity which would help them gain individual recognition amongst the fans.

Latest changes -

However, there are changes taking place slowly in the disparities which can be taken as a positive. For instance, the BCCI has come up with a change that the players in the women's team will get Rs 1 lakh per game compared to Rs 3 lakh per series (irrespective of the number of matches played).

The daily allowance too has increased from $50 to $125 while playing overseas, and to $100 when playing at home. Also, the Indian women’s team flies business class which didn't happen earlier.

Nevertheless, the women in blue seem to not bother about the stark contrast to men's team and are only focusing on results. Hopefully our Indian women’s cricket team will get to lift the World Cup and add another feather in their cap making way for more achievements and get its due recognition.

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