The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of hardships and devastation to people all across the world in various fields. One of the areas severely impacted is the sporting ecosystem, especially women’s cricket in Pakistan. While men’s cricket at the domestic level has been affected to a certain level, departments have been put an end to in the domestic circuit for women’s cricket.
There are only 45 active women cricketers left in Pakistan at the moment, and that’s a significant fall from the 200 active just 3 years back. The domestic structure was revamped entirely in a move engineered by Pakistan PM, Imran Khan where the domestic system now has only 6 regional teams and 192 contracted players. Around 400 male cricketers have lost their job due to this revamp, but its’ impact on women’s cricket has been more visible and severe.
In 2017, domestic cricket for women would feature three tournaments, with 12 regional teams in just a single tournament. Currently, there are only two tournaments for women in the domestic circuit and only features three teams – PCB Dynamites, PCB Blasters and PCB Challengers. While the three tournaments and several teams would allow the opportunity to field 200 women cricketers, the current structure provides for only 45.
Of these 45, 9 are centrally contracted by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and 9 are employed under the emerging category players. Both these categories receive a monthly retainer of PKR 50,000 (USD 300 approx).
In an interview with Umar Farooq, a female cricketer who played for a department in the domestic circuit, told ESPNcricinfo, “We are not really sure about our future. Cricket has been our passion and our ambition was to play for the country, but it is all confused now. The system has always been inconsistent and every new head comes with their own plan and never lets one structure run properly. We leave our studies to play cricket but we can’t have a future. They want us to grow but they don’t create the environment and infrastructure for women cricketers.”
She went on to add, “Unlike the men, we do not have long careers or enough freedom, but so many girls want to play cricket. They don’t know how to make their way. There is no set pathway. Even if a girl isn’t able to have an international career, they can play for the departments and earn a decent amount of money to show their parents that they are doing fine. But now there is nothing left.”
PCB made an effort to assist their players under extremely strenuous circumstances caused by the pandemic. They provided a financial aid package for 25 unemployed women cricketers, who were out of a contract for the current season and without a job. However, it was just a three-month package and is due to expire next month. Along with this, the PCB has increased the salary amount in the three categories, which now stands at PKR 200,000 for Category A – up from 150,000 last season, PKR 150,000 for Category B, and PKR 100,000 for Category C, which saw an increase as well.
Your average cricket enthusiast. Loves to write about what he loves to watch.