Former India cricketer-turned-commentator Anjum Chopra feels women’s cricket has gradually changed as a sport allowing current players to earn a living from it.
Chopra, who played 157 matches for India, says she thought of quitting cricket during her playing days as it wasn’t paying her bills.
“I was the captain of the Indian team but it didn’t really matter because those accolades, after some time, they don’t pay your bills,” Chopra told The Quint in an interview.
“After my MBA got over and everybody else was going and starting work and I was sitting at home still trying to take files from one table to another in government organisations to allow me to get employed with them and play cricket. So that was one of the times when I thought I should quit playing cricket because it was not a paying job and it was not going to be paying my bills, as time progresses.”
Chopra, who captained India in 41 matches across formats, talked about how getting dropped during her playing days never affected her and, in her mind, she was always the best player to lead India.
“Whenever I got dropped, I didn’t think that I wasn’t good enough. I knew for sure that I was much better than the players who were playing. I knew for sure that I was the best person to captain India and when I was removed from captaincy, I knew it was just because of regionalism and biases. It was not because of performance. So that really didn’t deter me from the target as my job was always to play well for India and to perform for India,” she said.
43-year-old Chopra believes women’s cricket has come a long way from the days of Women’s Cricket Association of India (WCAI) and one big reason for it is the introduction of central contracts by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
“I think the encouragement has already happened, it started happening when contracts were introduced somewhere around 2015-16,” she said. “Prior to that we were given a mere amount of a lakh of rupees for playing an international series. Here the players are contracted to a good amount and getting paid their dearness allowances and match fees and everything is separate. And of course, comes alongside a lot of commercial endorsements.”
“I won’t say they are paid less because I have seen the era where our seniors were not even paid a small dearness allowance. My generation at least started from not getting paid to, getting DA, small match fees, to getting rewards. I have gone through those stages. So, for today’s generation they are getting contracts and to see from that perspective sport has really developed and what a real amount a women cricketer should be paid that’s very absolute, you can never put a number to it.”