Lizzy Ammon has a piece in today’s Times headlined: “New era for women’s game begins but stars are paid only £20 a day”. [Link (£)]
The piece raises a number of questions about the Kia Super League, arguing that “the competition is facing the challenge of poorly paid players, low attendances and no TV deal.”
These are certainly legitimate issues to raise, but they also ignore the other side of the story.
Take the issue of money: it is quite true that there isn’t much of it – no one is going to be dashing off to their Ferrari dealer with their KSL pay cheque, that’s for sure! But £150 is £150 more than anyone gets for playing in the Women’s County Championship; and for players like Katie Levick and Daisy Gardner, this is the first time they have ever been paid at all, for something that they basically consider a hobby!
As for low attendances, we will have to wait and see exactly what transpires, but I’d be happy to bet that even the lowest KSL crowd will dwarf the numbers we usually see for the County Champs, where beyond friends and family, you can usually count the crowd on the fingers of one hand.
And the TV… well yes, that is disappointing; especially if it really was the case that Sky were “concerned about the quality of the cricket”, because that is the one thing which they really don’t need to be worried about – KSL has the stars to ensure the cricket is going to be amazing. But again, the County Championship has never been broadcast, so we haven’t lost anything by the lack of a TV deal, we are just exactly where we have always been!
Do we wish it was on TV, drawing big crowds, and paying the players a bit more? Absolutely! So do the players. (So do the ECB, believe it or not.)
And we do understand that the KSL all looks pretty small potatoes when seen through the prism of even the men’s county game, let alone something like the IPL.
But would we rather be here with “something”, or back where we were a year ago with “nothing”? Looked at from that perspective, the real story of the KSL is one of remarkable progress in a very short space of time; and for that, the ECB deserve credit where it’s due.