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Women’s World T20: Coverage? Money?

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The World Twenty20 cricket is under way in Sri Lanka, the women’s competition alongside the men’s.

At the risk of jinxing them completely, England’s women have a great chance of winning it – unlike the men.  And yet, have you seen any coverage of it?

Every men’s game is covered on BBC Radio 5Live Sports Xtra.  The women’s tournament will not be covered until the semi finals on Thursday and Friday.

There is hardly any coverage in the newspapers, even in the broadsheets, while the men’s has garnered many column inches every day.

England has the best batter in the world in Sarah Taylor, a captain newly appointed to the MCC World Cricket Committee in Charlotte Edwards, and one of the most explosive bowlers in the game in Katherine Brunt, and yet there is neither terrestrial nor satellite television coverage.

Unfortunately, it’s a situation to which both women cricketers and fans have become accustomed.

However, there are other, more disturbing inequalities between the two tournaments.

This week, Charlotte Edwards uttered the immortal line: “It’s not about the money for us. If we played for money we would be playing different sports.”

It’s just as well, as the prize money for this tournament totals just on 60 thousand US dollars, whereas the men are playing for a cool one million.

There can be no doubt that the women’s game is not such a draw, but if it is not marketed in the same way, how are potential viewers supposed to make up their own minds?

If there is no access to media coverage, how will the situation ever improve?

The sad fact is that the women’s tournament is clearly not valued by the International Cricket Council (ICC) as much as the men’s and the organisation’s sexism, will, if not checked, ultimately cause women’s cricket as a whole to dwindle.

These days when exercise and sport, especially for women, are supposed to be being promoted, these decisions do nothing to encourage the development of a robust women’s game.

And if the prize money disparity wasn’t enough, a possibly more disturbing revelation has been that the men’s subsistence pay is 100 dollars a day while the women’s is just 60 dollars.

While the ICC could try to make all kinds of justifications as to the prize money difference, I can’t possibly see what they could say to justify the pay situation.

An ICC spokeswoman has said: ”We are working towards equal everything.  We are aiming to have three viable formats in men’s and women’s cricket and to promote the women’s game so it receives the same exposure, the same opportunities and the same prize money.”

Notably, no time scales were mentioned.

These women are dedicated, talented athletes.  They deserve more.

In England, women’s cricket is relatively well-regarded and supported by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

And yet these women still play in relative obscurity.

The controversies surrounding this tournament have undoubtedly highlighted the women’s game, but in a way neither the players nor the governing bodies wanted.

I certainly can’t wait for the day we can concentrate on what takes place on the field, not off it.

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