In an irony which we have reason to believe was not lost on our friends at the ECB, England’s top male and female cricketers found themselves promoting a campaign for gender equality less than 24 hours after flying to the T20 World Cup in somewhat less than equal circumstances.
The ‘Pledge For Parity’ hashtag which dominated Twitter on International Women’s Day was heavily promoted by the ECB; but while Joe Root and Eoin Morgan took a luxurious business class flight to India, Sarah Taylor and the women’s team were on a different plane… cramped up in economy.
It is important to note that the flights were paid for by the ICC not the ECB; and to recognise that this has happened against a background of the ICC having considerably increased their level of investment in this event, in terms of prize money and broadcast coverage.
Nevertheless, the ECB could have paid for an upgrade to the flights. Indeed, this is exactly what Cricket Australia did; with the Southern Stars flying ‘Business’* after pressure from the Australian government, which threatened to withdraw state funding from the game if more equitable travel arrangements were not provided for the men’s and women’s teams.
So should the ECB have followed Cricket Australia’s lead and provided the upgrades? CRICKETher accepts that these can be difficult decisions, and there is an argument that there are much better ways to spend the £30,000† it would have cost to even bump the players up to ‘Premium Economy’ let alone ‘Business’.
But at the very least, perhaps the ECB could use some of its much-vaunted influence at the ICC to see if something can’t be done about this next time, so that future ‘Pledges for Parity’ ring a little less hollow.
* This piece originally stated that the Southern Stars flew ‘Premium Economy’ – this was corrected on 21/03/2016.
† Based on the list price, flying BA.