Cricket-England women to earn same match fees as men’s team

LONDON (Reuters) -The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has increased match fees for the women’s team to bring them in line with the men’s team, the governing body said on Wednesday.

The increase takes effect immediately, starting with the three-match Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka starting on Thursday.

The decision follows record-breaking crowds at the Women’s Ashes series in June and July, where the total attendance was 110,000 and all three one-day internationals were sold out.

“It’s brilliant, it’s another really good step forward for the game,” England women’s captain Heather Knight told reporters. “The PCA (Professional Cricketers Association) have played a huge role in getting us to this point.

“It’s reward for what has been a remarkable summer. It’s encouraging that boards around the world are starting to do it, we saw with South Africa recently and New Zealand.”

The change was recommended in a report released by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket last month, which said the women’s match fees were 25% of the men’s for white-ball matches and 15% for test matches.

“We are currently considering all the recommendations made by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket, but equalising match fees is one immediate step we are pleased to make now,” ECB chief executive Richard Gould said.

“We all want cricket to be the team sport of choice for female athletes… However, we know there is still much further to go as we ultimately strive for equality across the game.”

Knight said the women’s game has come a long way in England, saying that when she started out in 2010 players barely got their expenses covered. But she said there was still work to do, including making the domestic women’s game fully professional.

“Hopefully there is more down the line that will continue to improve,” she said. “Hopefully some of the younger girls in the team will benefit. It’s remarkable how it’s progressed.”

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad and Martyn Herman in London, editing by Pritha Sarkar)