JOHANNESBURG - There can be no doubt that Thabang Moroe is heading in the right direction.
So, while the rhetoric of the acting CEO of Cricket South Africa (CSA) regarding creating more equity in pay among the senior professional men’s and women’s cricket players brought out a barrage of angry rebuttals, mostly from us blokes, he is not wrong in moving towards such a system.
Yes, perhaps presently it would be unrealistic and unattainable for both teams, and the individuals within them, to be remunerated equally. Moroe has stated so himself, saying: “Obviously, (women’s cricketers aren’t) going to have equal pay from the word go, but it’s about building their revenue stream
"As CSA, we need to pull our socks up and make sure we provide them with an environment that is conducive to them competing at the highest level.”
It is progressive thinking that oils the cogs that will move the machinery of change forward.
Sport, by its current understanding, lay in the sphere of male hegemony. It’s there where the money is made and the money spent. There can be no arguing the popularity and economics of this current reality. Men pull in the crowds, they make more money and therefore should be paid more.
The reasons for this system are multifarious - from histrionic, social, political or cultural, mostly due to patriarchal inclinations which all have stifled the development of women’s sport in male dominated fields, save perhaps for a few sporting codes here and there, and one or two counties who interpret their social standings differently.
Moroe wants to bring a bit more fairness to this organisation, to make cricket a viable profession for women. There is nothing wrong with that.
Where the problem lies is that it is a top-down approach that will appease the professionals so fortuitous to be in those paying positions, but arguably do little for the development of the sport among girls.
So, while we can acknowledge Moroe’s liberal stance as the future, we must ask what CSA and the Department of Sport and Recreation are doing to ensure the growth of women’s cricket at grassroots level.
If cricket in this country is to move towards a revenue-sharing model which sees men and women on an equal footing, surely CSA’s hard graft must start at school and club level. That is, most of us can agree, where we learn to play and love these games, where skills are discovered and evolve.
If we can generate interest among girls to play cricket, teach them the virtues of the game, instil pride and place them in teams that they can call their own at each and every age-group level, throughout early establishment structures to the professional level, the chances of creating revenue based on success, on awareness, on supporter participation, will be that much greater.
If Moroe is truly serious about creating equity and eventually equality in cricket’s professional ranks, and there is no reason to doubt him, such an environment must first exist among our children.
Cricket must stop being seen as a sport that only boys participate in but rather one that has universal appeal. If you think such a province of egalitarianism prevails at our schools, ask yourself but one question: How many schools do you know where cricket is given as an extracurricular activity and without irony, to girls?