Heather Knight calls equal match fees for England women ‘remarkable’ progress

England captain Heather Knight says she “barely got expenses” at the start of her career as she reflected on the “remarkable” progress of women’s cricket following the announcement of equal match fees.

Players for England women’s side will receive payment in line with the men’s team for international appearances with immediate effect.

Knight and her team-mates are set to benefit from the change for the first time on Thursday evening during the opening match of their Vitality IT20 series against Sri Lanka at Hove.

The 32-year-old admits she could not have envisaged pay parity with the men when she made her England debut in 2010.

“Not really, no,” she said. “I don’t think so.

“Back then it felt like a very long way off and it’s remarkable how things have progressed.

“When you’re in it and things improve gradually, you don’t realise until you look back to what it was like back then in the early days of my career.

“It’s mad when you look back to 2010 when I started, we barely got expenses.

“To now be in a position to be professional and then earn a decent living from the game is obviously really pleasing.”

The change, revealed on Wednesday morning, was recommended in the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) report, which found discrimination is “widespread” in English and Welsh cricket.

It said women were paid 25 per cent of men’s fees for white-ball and 15 per cent for Tests by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Knight feels this summer’s thrilling women’s Ashes series against Australia, which attracted record-breaking crowds, was a “watershed” moment.

She also believes there is room for further development, including making the women’s domestic game fully professional

“It’s another really good step forward for the game,” she continued. “It’s kind of reward from what’s been a remarkable summer.

“You talk about the women’s game playing a big role in the sport and I think this is backing that up with not just words but actions as well.

“When you look at things that happened like the Ashes, the amount of support we’ve had, the momentum that that series had and the support that it had, I think that felt like a real watershed moment.

“I guess this is kind of following on from that and just another progression.

“There are still areas that we can get better and investing in the pathway and making the domestic game fully professional is another key priority to continue to have that sustainability of the women’s game.

“It’s really pleasing but hopefully there are more things down the line that will continue to improve.”

Mahika Gaur
Mahika Gaur could make her England debut at Hove (Nick Potts/PA)

England could hand debuts to wicketkeeper-batter Bess Heath and 17-year-old fast bowler Mahika Gaur for their sold-out series opener against Sri Lanka in Sussex.

Top-ranked T20 bowler Sophie Ecclestone, batter Sophia Dunkley and experienced all-rounder Nat Sciver-Brunt have been rested.

Speaking of teenager Gaur, Knight said: “She’s unique, a left-armer that’s, I think, 6ft 3in, which is pretty mad.

“I think she’s had a growth spurt since the first time I met her a couple of months ago so she obviously brings that.

“She’s got a pretty good action and swings the ball late. She’s very young so we have to manage her pretty carefully and make sure we’re looking after her as a person and as a cricketer.

“She’s certainly exciting.

“We’ve obviously rested a few senior players so that gives us a chance to try and grow the pool of players we’re picking from.”