Suzie Bates: Women cricketers need to improve

"The men have really pushed their game forward. They strive to bowl faster, hit harder. Yes, the women are not quite there yet. It will take time for the women to do these things more consistently- perhaps another five years," said Suzie Bates.

According to New Zealand skipper Suzie Bates, there is more to establishing a level-playing field than just the dollar bills on offer.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Eleven-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic stirred up a hornet’s nest recently, when he stated that male tennis players should earn more pay than women because they generate more income. He has since apologized, but the debate rages on.

In the world of cricket, while women have gradually begun to get their due, there still exists a disparity. For example, the prize money on offer for the ICC World Twenty20 totals 5.6 million USD for men and USD 400,000 for their female counterparts. A recent report stated that the ICC flew the men’s teams to the World T20 in club class seats, while the women - barring the Australia team - travelled in economy class.

In the opinion of New Zealand skipper Suzie Bates, there is more to establishing a level-playing field than just the dollar bills on offer. “For me, it is not about equal pay. For the first time, our players have a hotel room to themselves - we used to share rooms in the past. We also get the same food allowance as men. Rather than focussing on just the prize money, I would prefer having this sort of support,” Suzie said, on the eve of her side's ICC World T20 match against South Africa here.

While these are welcome improvements, the big changes can be implemented only if the sport can be packaged and sold as an entertaining commodity. And for this to happen, the action on the field must be appealing. Suzie is frank in her assessment that her peers have to step up to the plate. “The men have really pushed their game forward. They strive to bowl faster, hit harder - all this comes from increased amount of training and gym work. They can smash reverse hits for sixes - this is the stuff that people want to see. Yes, the women are not quite there yet. It will take time for the women to do these things more consistently - perhaps another five years,” she said.

Suzie - she recently became the first batswoman from her country to score 2,000 T20 international runs - added that regressive stereotypes forced upon women have begun to vanish. “In New Zealand, folks are generally encouraging, but now and then, a girl might be told to give up cricket and to get a ‘real job’. In the financial sense, playing cricket may not set you up for life. However, there is not as much pressure as before to do things which are accepted - for lack of a better word - for females.”