'We just want to make a good living and enjoy our cricket'
Proteas Women’s captain Dané van Niekerk said she was “disappointed” by some of the reaction that emerged after the possibility was raised that South Africa’s female cricketers should earn the same salaries as their male counterparts.
“We have responsibilities, we’re adults, we have a life outside of cricket. I was disappointed with some of the comments that were made, we just want to make a good living and enjoy our cricket and have fun doing that and set up something afterwards. This (cricket) takes up a lot of time in your life,” said Van Niekerk.
The controversy was sparked by Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) interim chief executive, Thabang Moroe, who claimed that as part of the negotiations with the national players body – the South African Cricketers Association – regarding the next Memorandum Of Understanding, the men’s and women’s national players should be paid equally.
Van Niekerk indicated yesterday, however, that equal pay was a goal for the future, but that the discussion was certainly worth having right now. “It sparked a bit of emotion, but as the Proteas women’s team we are realistic about life, we definitely don’t live in a dream world where we think we bring in the same revenue as the men, we know that and we understand that everything won’t happen overnight.”
Van Niekerk, along with a couple of her teammates in the national side, was taken aback by comments attributed to former Proteas batsman Boeta Dippenaar, who claimed the women players don’t have as many responsibilities or spend as much time away as their male counterparts.
“There were some comments about us not having any responsibilities, we are home a lot – funny fact I was only home for a month last year. Everyone has their opinions, some support it, some don’t. At the end of the day my job is to get women’s cricket where it deserves to be, if that takes time, hard work and some hard conversations then I am happy to have them,” Van Niekerk explained.
Moroe said he wanted to create a separate and very specific commercial-driven programme for the country’s female players.
Van Niekerk emphasised that her life as a professional cricketer had changed drastically from what it was when she made her international debut as a 16-year-old in 2009 – a lot of that Van Niekerk explained had to do with her playing in T20 Leagues in Australia and England. “Day to day, obviously my life is a lot better, but CSA has been brilliant, along with the sponsors. From where I started to where I am now, even without the Big Bash (in Australia), life is pretty good.”
The profile of the country’s women’s team has certainly increased in the last 18 months and received a significant boost following the team’s run to the semi-finals of the World Cup last year.
Moroe met with Van Niekerk and the team’s coach Hilton Moreeng yesterday and is understood to have been taken aback at how the team didn’t receive better support from CSA.
“When they travel, do they have enough rest days, are there enough warm-up games, is the lodging comfortable, is the travel comfortable? This is a high-performance team, and as management of CSA we must pull our socks up in terms of the support we are providing them, so that we create a conducive environment so that the team is able to compete at the highest level,” said Moroe.
The SA team heads to England on Sunday where they will play three ODIs against the world champions. After that they play in a triangular T20 series against the hosts and New Zealand, which forms part of the preparations for the World T20 Championships in the West Indies later this year.