After Twenty20 World Cup we must now start taking women's cricket seriously
22:14 GMT, 7 October 2012
In Sri Lanka, which just hosted the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, it apparently costs 62 a day for a man to live but only 37 for a woman.
This isn’t anything to do with the prize money offered by the International Cricket Council, which is far more heavily weighted in favour of the men: 619,000 as opposed to just 37,000.
This is just as it should be, owing to the superior commercial pulling power of the men’s game. Female internationals only swapped long socks and culottes for trousers in 1997, after all. The game is still a work in progress.
Game changer: The decision to play matches on same day and at same venue as the men has helped greatly
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No, this isn’t about prize money. This is the players’ daily living allowance we’re talking about here; something indelibly linked to the value of the players. How much they matter, basically.
The amount is more than enough for generous helpings of curry, coconut sambol and roti in a beautiful country like Sri Lanka, but the deficit implies female cricketers are not as important. They don’t matter.
Time and time again this is the message for females involved in sport, and this is why it hurts.
It rankles particularly when the achievements of England’s women far surpassed their male counterparts in this tournament.
While two men in suits and ties sat a table and talked about ‘reintegration’ last week, England’s Arran Brindle delivered a message to her class of primary school children back in Louth, Lincolnshire, via video link.
Charlotte Edwards’s side then got on with the business of preparing for their semi-final, in which they beat New Zealand by seven wickets.
Genuine success for England on the international stage is the catalyst needed to push women’s football to the next level in this country, yet England’s female cricketers already boast a quite overwhelming record of achievement.
They came up short in the final, losing to Australia by four runs, but it was only the team’s fourth loss in 29 Twenty20 matches they have played this year. This consolation won’t lessen the disappointment, of course, but the 20-over format has been an important vehicle for the women’s game.
Double headers with men’s fixtures have brought in new audiences and a higher level of interest — both at the ground and on television — even if that progress is still gradual.
So close: England's women were beaten finalists in Colombo
‘We’re not completely dependent on the men’s game any more,’ said England bowler Holly Colvin, 23, speaking to promote Sky Sports’ coverage of the women’s semi-finals and final.
‘It’s getting a lot better: more sixes are being hit, TV coverage is better and the gap between international teams is getting closer. It’s the level of skill that’s getting better, too. We are just as skilful. We might not bowl 90 miles per hour but we are very happy with the standard we play.
‘Lots of people have commented on the improvements in fielding at this tournament. People just need to come down and watch and make up their mind.’
Colvin also insisted ‘everyone was happy’ with the daily allowance because it ‘is more than enough in a country like Sri Lanka and we are happy to get the amount we do’.
Very pragmatic, but it’s not about the pennies and pounds, it’s about what that amount signifies.
After all, England’s women cricketers have shown they are not second-class citizens.
Bowled over: The women's game has improved vastly in recent years
… AND THIS IS WHAT I'VE BEEN DOING THIS WEEK
Watching Charlton against Watford on Tuesday night, when only two outfield players wore predominantly black boots. Just two.
Coloured boots were once seen as flashy; you had to be some player to wear them. Now they’re just the norm. I’m with Martin O’Neill on this one: back to black boots please, boys.
Supporting British swimmers Rebecca Adlington, Joanne Jackson and Ross Davenport on their 380-mile cycle ride across Zambia.
They’re raising vital funds for a charity called Sport in Action, which works to empower young people through sport, but camping and cycling for four days in 35-degree heat will certainly be a challenge. You can sponsor them at www.justgiving.com/zambiacycle.
On your bike: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson chats with Adlington
Pleased that three gold medals in women’s boxing will be available at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow after the success of the sport at London 2012.
I found it a challenging experience watching women fight for the first time at the Olympics, but Nicola Adams provided one of the stand-out moments of the Games for me. I’m glad it won’t be a one-off.
WHAT THEY SAID
Dame Tessa Jowell called the Government’s ‘dismantling’ of school sport ‘beyond belief’ this week — a reference to the 162m cut in funding for School Sport Partnerships.
Education Secretary Michael Gove’s response was to invite cricket, tennis, rugby and football administrators to discuss what to do next. That’s right: those well-known Olympic disciplines; the sports that enjoy the highest profiles and kids are most likely to find outside school, anyway.
Anyone would think Mr Gove didn’t have a clue about school sport.
Taking a stand: Jowell described the Government's decision as 'beyond belief'
PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK
FA Women’s Super League champions Arsenal Ladies beat Barcelona, the Spanish champions, 4-0 on Thursday to reach the last 16 of the Champions League.
Perhaps even more remarkable was the fact they were already defending a 3-0 lead from the first (away) leg. Not too bad at all, really.