It All Starts With The Swing Of A Bat

Today is the third match of the Women’s T20 Challenge, misleadingly dubbed the ‘Women’s IPL’. While it has talented players and a compelling display of cricket—the two main factors associated with the Indian Premier League—that’s where the similarities end.

For starters, the tournament comes to a close on the 11th. With just four matches scheduled, it ends almost immediately after kicking off on the 6th of May. Moreover, the games take place alongside the playoffs for the men’s league, acting as precursors for the latter rather than functioning as independent events of their own.

The astronomical disparities in the gender pay gap came to light last year, when the BCCI updated the players’ contracts (ironically on Women’s Day). While the men in the Grade C category are earning a crore per annum, the women in Grade A get 50 lakhs each. In other words, the least competent male cricketers are entitled to better salaries than their most competent female counterparts.

Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, and SMRITI MANDHANA – THE CAPTAINS OF THE THREE TEAMS.

Considering that our women in blue have achieved meteoric success in the recent past, defeating strong teams like England, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa; there are quantifiable results to back up why they need suitable compensation. The women’s IPL even signed on two mega-sponsors in the form of PayTM and Hotstar, this year, but that hasn’t supplemented its finances.

Their matches can be watchedfree of cost and receive only a fraction of the media coverage that the men’s IPL routinely enjoys. This tournament is something of a litmus test to measure public interest in the concept of a women’s IPL; we’re still years away from a full-fledged female league.

However, data has proven that the number of women watching the IPL shot up by a significant 18% this April. When the audience is becoming so diverse, the necessity to see themselves represented on the screen increases. However, many girls still don’t receive enough encouragement to pursue sports professionally.

And this, we believe, is where art can make a difference. It can trickle down to the grassroots of society, affecting change in the young and old. Complex, three-dimensional, and empowering female characters can act as role models for the next generation of aspiring Harmanpreet Kaurs and Jhulan Goswamis.

Our little heroine, Ramya, from the immensely popular “World of Ramya and Ramu” series, has her heart set on playing cricket, but her classmates and her father aren’t convinced. However, her passion and resolve eventually lead her to fulfill her goal: becoming the Player of the Match.

Despite having made progress in the arena of women’s cricket, as a country, there are still a hundred naysayers to every staunch supporter. Therefore, it’s important to change that mindset with books like Ramya’s Bat, which will help mold a collective Indian consciousness geared towards equality.

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