Cricket in India is nothing short of a religion. However, the women of the country took a while to make it to the big leagues. As a matter of fact, one can bet on their team and players at sites like sportsbet io today. They’ve gone from struggling for sponsorships to receiving the same pay as men. This was a huge victory for the team and, subsequently, the women of this country. Let’s take a look at their journey.
A Brief History
Early in the 1970s, a few fervent women took up cricket, and this got the ball rolling. The Women’s Cricket Association of India (WCAI) was founded in Lucknow in 1973 under the presidency of Begum Hamida Habibullah by an enterprising individual by the name of Mr. Mahendra Kumar Sharma, even though the sport was not then legally structured. The numerous aspiring female cricketers saw this as a blessing. The International Women’s Cricket Council (IWCC) also became a member of the WCAI that same year.
From 1970 to 1973, women’s cricket was quite active since players were engaged in the sport for essentially the entire year. The first Women’s Inter-State Nationals were held in Pune in April 1973, and three teams—Bombay, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh—participated. There were 14 teams competing by the time the third tournament was held in Calcutta. Soon, the rest of the nation’s states followed. Women cricketers were also engaged by Railways and Air India, and they competed as independent teams.
The first-ever bilateral women’s cricket series was played in India in 1975 when the Australia U-25 team visited to play a three-match Test series after a successful five-year run at the domestic level.
The “Women in Blue” made their ODI debut during the 1978 World Cup two years later. The massive competition, which was held in India, featured four teams in all. They were joined by England, Australia, and New Zealand. Unfortunately, India’s performance was poor, and they dropped all three games. The International Women’s Cricket Council (IWCC) granted the WCAI government recognition the same year, despite their loss.
India finally achieved their first-ever ODI series victory in the 1995 Centenary Celebration of New Zealand Cricket, and this served as a significant boost for the nation’s women’s cricket programme. The team didn’t break into ODI cricket for 17 long years.
The Struggle for Sponsorship
Despite their accolades, the team struggled to receive funding and sponsorships. Mandira Bedi, a cricket commentator and icon, took it upon herself to get the women in blue the money they needed. She used her endorsement paycheck from working as an ambassador for a jewellery brand, Asmi, to sponsor the team. She made sure the team was sponsored by the brand for their 2004 series against the West Indies. She did everything she could for the team between 2003-2005.
We’ve Achieved Equal Pay
In a historic move toward achieving gender parity in India’s most popular sport, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) mandated in October 2022 that all centrally contracted players, regardless of gender, would be paid the same amount each match.
Overall, and especially for women’s cricket, this was a huge victory. In other words, the players’ Test fees will increase by 275%, and their ODI fees will increase by a whopping 500%. India is currently only one of two countries in the world, along with New Zealand, to implement equal pay for its female and male professional cricket players.
India’s women’s cricket team is ranked fourth in the world. With players like Mithali Raj and Harmanpreet Kaur paving the way for young girls to join the sport, India has a bright future ahead.