The Telegraph: Jasprit Bumrah is back to his best which bodes badly for England

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The problem with being one of, if not the best in the world at your chosen craft, is that the world in return expects that best on each occasion. Wanting all of a person, all of the time, is a pressure, an expectation which we’ve recently seen rest heavily on the shoulders of some of the world’s top athletes. Ben Stokes, Simone Biles, Naomi Osaka to name the most high profile few.

The full version of this article was printed in The Telegraph on 4 August 2021 and can be accessed here.

The Telegraph: Dunkley’s debut dominance continues

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Every time Sophia Dunkley has had her first hit in an England shirt in any given format, she has dug her side out of a hole. On Test debut, an unbeaten 74 put England in a commanding position; in her first T20I innings she top-scored in a narrow defeat against the West Indies. And on Wednesday evening in Taunton, as England stumbled at 92 for four chasing 221, Dunkley’s debut form continued. The Lambeth-born batter struck an unbeaten 73 from 81 deliveries to steer England to a 6-2 series lead against India.

The Telegraph: India women cricketers still owed ‘life-changing’ prize money from 2020 World Cup

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Exclusive: India’s women cricketers have not been paid the prize money owed to them from the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup, which finished more than 14 months ago. By reaching the final, in which they were defeated by Australia in front of a crowd of more than 86,000, India’s players should have collectively received $500,000 (£350,000).

Telegraph Sport understands that the BCCI still holds the entire prize pot awarded to India’s players, more than a year after they earned it. Tom Moffat, the CEO of Fica, the Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations, told Telegraph Sport that it was made aware of the non-payment of the prize money in August 2020, when it raised the issue with the International Cricket Council. At the same time, Fica contacted the Indian players to offer support. 

“Prize money is payable to players for their on-field performance in pinnacle events and the late non-payment of money owing to players is unacceptable,” Mr Moffat told Telegraph Sport. “We encourage players in India to consider getting organised as part of a players’ association so they, and the game in India, can benefit from collective player representation in the same way that their fellow professionals around the world do.”

India and Pakistan are the only major cricket nations to not have a recognised players’ body.

The ICC is responsible for paying out the prize money and their policy is to do so within a week of any tournament finishing. Usually, this is direct to to the respective team’s national governing bodies, in this case the Board of Control for Cricket in India, unless that body asks the ICC to pay the players directly. The full prize money pot must then be allocated among the squad of players and should be paid within two weeks of receiving it from the ICC. It is up to the BCCI to determine how the prize money should be apportioned, whether equally or according to a sliding scale.

For a cricket board which boasted of earning almost $550 million in revenue from hosting the Indian Premier League “during the pandemic time”, it is another embarrassing revelation for the BCCI in its handling of women’s cricket.

India’s women’s team did not play a single international match for almost an entire year following the T20 World Cup final and the onset of the pandemic, a period in which its men’s side played eight Tests and six white ball matches. The BCCI also staged a 56-match IPL for its male players, while an exhibition tournament for the women consisted of just four matches, squeezed into the men’s knockout rounds.

Before the 2020 T20 Women’s World Cup, the ICC increased the women’s prize pot by 320% from the 2018 event, with the 2020 tournament winners set to receive $1 million. Shortly afterwards, Cricket Australia announced that, if their women won, it would make up the difference in prize money to that awarded by the ICC to the winner of the previous men’s T20 World Cup, by adding an additional $600,000. 

Telegraph Sport understands that Australia’s players were paid their respective shares of the USD $1.6 million the month after the tournament’s conclusion, in April 2020. Similarly England’s players, who reached the semi-finals of the tournament and therefore earned $120,000 between them, also received their prize money within two months of the final.

Split evenly between each of the 15 players in India’s World Cup squad, the prize money that they earned amounts to  about $33,000 each. Only 13 women’s players in the country earn more than this amount per year, with the top women’s salaries amounting to just $69,000. One administrator, who did not wish to be identified, described the prize money as “life changing for some of those women”. 

For the 2020 IPL alone, Virat Kohli, India’s premier men’s player, commanded a salary of more than $2.3 million. The lowest amount a contracted men’s international will earn is just under $140,000.

Veda Krishnamurthy, who played in the T20 World Cup Final, is the only player from India’s then squad to have lost her BCCI retainer in the recently announced contracts. Now, as a domestic women’s player, Krishnamurthy receives no annual income, instead only earning money through match fees and tournament daily allowances (which, according to players, barely covers their equipment costs).

Earlier this month, both Krishnamurthy’s mother and sister died from Covid. At first, and prior to losing her BCCI contract, Krishnamurthy allegedly received no communication or support from the BCCI, until the issue was raised publicly and a social media backlash ensued.

Telegraph Sport has approached the BCCI for comment.

The full version of this article was printed in The Telegraph on 23 May 2021 and can be accessed here.

Wisden Cricket Monthly: Where is cricket’s Marcus Rashford?

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With athletes increasingly making their voices heard on issues that transcend their sport, Isabelle Westbury asks why cricketers continue to stay within the boundary rope.

About halfway through 2020’s bizarre summer of sport, athlete activism was contagious. A flurry of fixtures were postponed in support of the Black Lives Matter movement as it swept through the US and beyond. Professional footballers in the UK routinely ‘took the knee’. And then there was cricket.

At first, there was no question that England’s men, alongside the West Indies, would take the knee before each match of their Test series. But as the summer progressed, with visits from Pakistan and Australia, neither England, nor their opponents, did so. The ECB instead issued a vague commitment to the overall “inclusion and diversity space”. An attempt to please all, to avoid conflict, to detach politics from sport.

The full version of this article can be found in the magazine, Wisden Cricket Monthly, January 2021 (Issue 39)

The Guardian: The lack of diversity in cricket journalism holds back the sport

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While coverage is shaped by mostly male, white and privately educated journalists, it will not engage large sections of society

By Isabelle Westbury for Wisden Cricket Monthly

When lockdown started and sport stopped, cricket journalists were provided with a unique opportunity to look in on themselves. Nostalgia replaced live action and sport’s writers, and talkers, turned to what they knew and where they came from. It confirmed, in stark terms, an industry that does not reflect the UK population, whether it be in terms of gender, ethnicity, socio-economic background, education, sexual orientation, able-bodiedness or geography.

The full version of this article can be found in The Guardian, published 11 November 2020, and the Wisden Cricket Monthly, November 2020 (Issue 36)

Wisden Cricket Monthly: The forgotten foot soldiers of the IPL

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As India continues to struggle under the weight of the pandemic, the United Arab Emirates came to the rescue by agreeing to host this year’s IPL. But while fans lap up the cricket, and financial stakeholders continue to enjoy the tournament’s riches, there is a darker side to the arrangement.

The IPL has begun, and it’s brilliant. We only need turn to England’s own unexpected summer of cricket to understand the power and respite of sport in moments like this. 

But just as the glitzy razzmatazz of the IPL provides us with the entertainment and escape we so desperately crave, the tournament’s staging in the United Arab Emirates also offers a stark contrast. A contrast between some of India’s most highly paid, well-looked-after superstars and some of its most poorly paid, exploited citizens, without whom the tournament could not have taken place: Indian migrants to the UAE.

The full version of this article can be found in the magazine, Wisden Cricket Monthly, October 2020 (Issue 36)

The Telegraph: Exclusive Jason Gillespie interview – ‘I say what I think and don’t like seeing injustice’

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Australian coach – who has worked for last nine years in England – has endeared himself to county fans because he is emotionally invested.

“The short answer is probably not,” says Jason Gillespie, Sussex’s departing head coach, shying away from the question of whether he might, one day, want to venture beyond the world of cricket. 

It seems an obvious question to ask, and not just because Gillespie’s impending departure from English cricket – where he has worked for the last nine years, first at Yorkshire and then, since 2018, at Hove – for a role with the South Australian Cricket Association is a clear moment to appraise his career.

The full version of this article was printed in The Telegraph on 30 September 2020 and can be accessed here.

The Telegraph: All-round brilliance from England beats West Indies by 47 runs again

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It’s time to replace the record player because this one’s broken. England have played the West Indies three times this year and after Wednesday night’s effort have beaten the tourists in similar fashion on each occasion, notching up a 46, 47 and now another 47-run win.

Float it up and pace off was the order of the evening as England’s three spinners, Mady Villiers, Sarah Glenn and Sophie Ecclestone, picked up six wickets between them. Unless you’ve got the pinpoint accuracy of the fiery opener Katherine Brunt, once again going at under three per over, it was hardly even a choice but to opt for slow and steady.

The full version of this article was printed in The Telegraph on 23 September 2020 and can be accessed here.

Medium: More Johns than women

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There is a real lack of female representation in our sports coverage right now. And it’s a big problem.

Even when there is no sport. Indeed, especially because there is no sport. Because women are disproportionately affected.

Across the sports pages of last Sunday’s nationals, eight Johns wrote articles, as did four Neils(!), and a grand total of seven women.

Of 166 sports articles (I know…) just three were on women’s sport (<2%).

The full version of this thread first featured on Twitter, on 25 April 2020, and can be accessed  on Meidum here.

ESPNcricinfo: Social media ban exposes gender divide

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Made by men for men. This, at its heart, appears the issue behind the recent announcement that Emily Smith, a professional cricketer for the Hobart Hurricanes, has been banned from cricket for a year (nine months suspended). Cricket Australia’s anti-corruption code is clear and Smith’s lighthearted post on social media revealing the Hurricanes’ line-up for a match an hour before it was officially announced contravened it.

The full version of this article was printed in ESPNcricinfo on 21 November 2019 and can be accessed here.