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England’s Sarah Glenn ‘surprised’ by huge disparity in women umpires’ fees

The England cricketer Sarah Glenn has called on the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to introduce equal pay for women’s cricket umpires and said she was “surprised” by the huge disparity in fees between the men’s and women’s game revealed by the Guardian on Monday.

Speaking in the buildup to England’s third T20 international against Sri Lanka at Derby, the leg-spinner Glenn said that, following the recent decision to equalise the match fees for the England women’s and men’s teams with immediate effect, the right to equal pay should be extended to the officials in charge.

“It [unequal pay for women’s umpires] does surprise me a little bit, but also we know that we’re trying to work towards getting equal pay,” Glenn said. “From an umpiring position, it’s a similar job and you do have the same pressures, so hopefully that changes quite soon and they get that equal pay, like we are getting now.”

The Guardian disclosed that umpires were paid about three times as much to officiate in the 2023 edition of the men’s Hundred as in the women’s Hundred. On-field and TV umpires in the women’s tournament were paid a fee of £300 to officiate in each group stage match, while those tasked with officiating in men’s group stage matches were paid £1,000 per game. For the finals, the fees were £1,000 and £2,500 respectively.

One women’s cricket umpire, speaking to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, concurred with Glenn: “We’re all doing the same tournament. The women’s matches are televised, the same as the men’s, so there’s nothing different. We all have full DRS. I’m not sure there’s enough difference to justify that much difference in pay.”

In a statement issued to the Guardian on Monday, an ECB spokesperson committed to “increasing pay for umpires who officiate in women’s professional cricket ahead of the 2024 season”.

The problem for the ECB is that the women’s professional game has grown at such a fast rate that the existing umpiring structures have not kept pace with the rate of change. In 2020, domestic women’s cricket was restructured into eight new regions, with each offering annual contracts to domestic players; alongside this, the launch of the Hundred competition in 2021 has vastly expanded professional opportunities in women’s cricket.

However, from an umpiring perspective, the men’s and women’s structures remain worlds apart. As revealed by the Guardian, umpires in elite domestic women’s cricket are on part-time retainer contracts and continue to be required to hold down other jobs, or study, alongside their officiating duties.

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England next take to the field in their series decider against Sri Lanka at Derby on Wednesday, and will have to again manage without Lauren Bell. The seam bowler is still recovering from the illness which ruled her out of the first two T20 internationals.

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