The ECB will invest an additional £800,000 in wages for the women’s Hundred in 2024 in a bid to attract the world’s best overseas players and to close the tournament’s gender pay gap, with men’s salaries frozen for the third straight season.
ESPNcricinfo understands that the salary cap will increase by 40% for each of the eight women’s squads, from £250,000 to £350,000, with the top three salary bands increasing by 60%. That means that the two highest earners in each squad will earn £50,000, up from £31,250 in 2023 and £15,000 in 2021.
The Women’s Future Tours Programme is clear for all full-member teams apart from Ireland and Sri Lanka during the Hundred’s window this year. With the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup due to take place in September-October, overseas players may see the Hundred as an opportunity to prepare for those international tournaments.
The investment in player wages will also make a dent in the Hundred’s gender pay gap, with women’s players now paid on average 35% of their male counterparts, compared to 25% in 2023. The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) report into English cricket last summer called for equal pay in the Hundred by 2025, though the ECB have not committed to that recommendation.
Salaries in the men’s Hundred are due to stay at the same level as 2023, with a top salary band of £125,000 and a salary cap of £1 million per squad. The tournament struggled to attract star names last summer and the top wage bracket remains significantly below those on offer in Major League Cricket (MLC).
The Hundred will run from late July to late August in 2024 and the early stages will clash with both England men’s third Test against West Indies and the final week of MLC. With the men’s T20 World Cup staged in the Caribbean and the United States in June, Hundred teams fear that many overseas players will stay in the region for MLC.
Nevertheless, the investment in women’s salaries, over the men’s, underlines the sense that the tournament’s dual-gender format has been integral to its success to date, and that further closing the pay gap is a priority. The Hundred will retain its double-header format in 2024, with men’s and women’s fixtures played back-to-back at the same venues.
Teams will soon begin to make retention offers to players they wish to keep for this season from their 2023 squads, with the men’s and women’s drafts expected to take place in March. Fixtures will be published next week, with the knockout stages again played at The Oval (eliminators) and Lord’s (finals).