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.
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.