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Women’s Hundred to receive £800,000 salary boost from ECB

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.

Salaries in the women’s Hundred still pale in comparison to those on offer in the Women’s Premier League (WPL) in India, where Smriti Mandhana is the leading earner on INR 3.4 crore (£320,000). But the ECB hope that the increase will attract the world’s best players in 2024, after some leading Australians – including Ash Gardner and Tahlia McGrath opted out of the Hundred last summer.

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.

The ECB has been consulting with counties over the future of the Hundred since the end of last season and there is a growing consensus that the tournament will be expanded to nine or ten teams in 2025. Under one proposal, counties would be gifted equity stakes in the Hundred teams that play at their venues, which could then be sold to private investors.
Jos Buttler, England men’s white-ball captain, implored the ECB to turn the Hundred into “the second-best domestic tournament in the world” behind the IPL last year and MLC’s emergence as a lucrative, Indian-backed competition during the English summer has heightened the sense that the Hundred requires further investment.

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).

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