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As the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shakes its male-dominated Indian Premier League (IPL) financial tree, the world’s first privately funded tournament in women’s cricket history has opened in Dubai on May 1.
Titled SDG FairBreak Invitational Tournament 2022, it is sanctioned by the International Cricket Council (ICC).
Six teams made up of 90 players from 35 countries will compete over 19 matches until the final on May 15. The inaugural tournament, hosted by Cricket Hong Kong, was to be held there, but the venue had to be moved due to COVID-19. limitations.
Players come from a mix of full member and associate member countries. There were no player auctions. Instead, an organizing committee invited cricketers and then assigned them to one of six teams.
This provides a welcome opportunity for Associate Players to play against and alongside some of the best female cricketers in the world. It also allows players from full member countries to understand the challenges associated players face, as well as appreciate their skills.
Most National Cricket Commissions were happy to allow their players to participate. The CEO of Cricket South Africa saw the involvement of six players as “another sign that South African women’s cricket is a force to be reckoned with”, while four players from the US women’s national team will take part. Five contracted England players have been invited to play and, despite the clash between the tournament and the start of a domestic cup competition, three of them will play in Dubai.
Unfortunately, for obvious reasons, there will be no Afghan players in the tournament, nor any Indian players. The BCCI has not granted any no-objection certificates, which players must obtain from their national council to participate in a national league in another country. The reason given was that the Senior Women’s National T20 Trophy only ended on May 4. With the opening match of the FairBreak tournament only taking place on this day, it’s hard to resist the feeling that the invited Indian players haven’t had a fair break. .
Additionally, there is no matchup with BCCI’s women’s sideshow IPL, a three-team T20 Challenge, scheduled for its fourth edition from May 24-28. Pressure to develop the event has been met with obstruction from the BCCI, who believe there is not enough depth in women’s football in India to warrant further investment at this stage. Others in Indian cricket do not share this view.
BCCI’s lukewarm attitude gives others the opportunity to take the initiative. Before stepping down as chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, Ramiz Raja was promoting the idea of a Pakistani women’s T20 super league. The introduction of the Hundred in England in 2021 has notably improved opportunities for women, while the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia has completed seven editions.
Before that, in 2013, a few people formed a Women’s International Cricket League (WICL). Its original aim was to provide more opportunities and better pay for female cricketers by attracting the best players in the world in the same way as the men’s IPL. This proposal has not met with the approval of either Cricket Australia or the England and Wales Cricket Board and has not been endorsed by the ICC. Instead, they stressed that they were each promulgating plans to professionalize and develop women’s cricket.
Over the past seven years, cricketing authorities would argue, without a doubt, that a structured set of competitions and pathways of progression has been put in place. Yet a gender pay gap remains. The refutation of the WICL proposals by the cricketing establishment caused its founders to rethink and reset. The WICL concept was abandoned and out of this impasse a vision was developed that people have fair and equal access to succeed in their chosen business, regardless of gender or geographic location. According to the FairBreak concept, cricket is the primary means of pursuing the goal of equality on a global scale.
FairBreak organized individual matches in which female cricketers from full member and associate member countries were brought together. Prior to the pandemic, a four-match tour of England took place in 2019, while annual fixtures were established at Sir Paul Getty Ground in Wormsley in England and Sir Donald Bradman Ground in Bowral in Australia. This latest match was claimed as the first ever women’s T20 match to be broadcast live worldwide. The resumption of these meetings is planned for 2022.
Full live coverage of the SDG FairBreak Invitational 2022 in 142 countries is in place thanks to 14 selected broadcast partners. A combination of traditional broadcasters, new over-the-top media sources and digital-only platforms will maximize content distribution and availability for fans of all ages. In the host territory of the United Arab Emirates, coverage will be provided via Etisalat which will broadcast every match live via eLife and STARZ Play. Spectators can also watch the tournament live at the Dubai International Stadium.
At the end of March 2022, the SDG Impact Fund was announced as the main sponsor of the tournament. The Fund focuses on regenerative philanthropic impact in line with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The fund is based in the United States and aligns well with FairBreak’s goals and current efforts to grow the game in the United States for both men and women. Healthcare company Gencor will continue to be the title sponsor.
The 2022 tournament represents a significant milestone for both FairBreak’s growth and its efforts to generate more funding, more expertise and more opportunities for women to play cricket. Its focus on equality in sport offers a different angle on the development of women’s cricket by integrating players from ICC full member countries and emerging countries. It appears to be finding a way to co-exist with the institutional bodies vested with the governance of cricket.
All should share a common goal of developing women’s cricket on an equal footing.