The Hundred was set to be the sole source of income for a number of female cricketers, so its postponement until 2021 has understandably cast shadows over the future of the women’s game.
Last Thursday, the ECB took the decision to delay the start of their new flagship competition for both men and women due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this rescheduling is likely to have a far more significant impact on the women’s game than the men’s.
Whilst the T20 Blast was set to be played alongside The Hundred, the women’s equivalent- The Kia Super League, was scrapped to make way for the new 100 ball tournament. Added to this, the lowest-paid male player in The Hundred was still set to earn £30,000, whereas the highest-paid women’s player was due to be paid just £15,000.
Whilst these statistics come as no surprise to those who are familiar with the vast financial disparity between men’s and women’s cricket, the potential impact of the lack of financial remuneration for female cricketers comes as a damning blow to the game, considering the way it has grown so far this year.
Speaking to the BBC World Service, Edwards said “For the players, it’s a worrying time.”
“But we have been guaranteed that the ECB will still go ahead with their £20m investment into the women’s game, which is something that is obviously keeping us all going at the moment, because this year was going to be hugely exciting for the game and important, and it’s good that it will go ahead – but it’s it being delayed that is going to prove to be a problem for some of the players.”
Edwards was keen to stress that she felt the right decision has been made in terms of postponing the competition, but that it comes at the worst possible time. Almost 90,000 fans packed the MCG at the beginning of March to watch a women’s cricket match, and in the immediate future there is unlikely to be a single fan able to attend any match.
“We just really felt the momentum was with the women’s game and we were also going to introduce contracts this summer for 40 professional cricketers, and it’s all been put on hold at the moment,” Edwards said.
There may still be a slim possibility of some international women’s cricket being played this summer, and many players may be lucky enough to be part of the Women’s Big Bash League if that goes ahead down under at the end of this year, but for many, who cannot rely on overseas competitions or county contracts, these really are daunting times.
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