It may have been pure coincidence that the announcement was splashed in the same editions that devoted columns to hailing the improving status of women, yet there can be no denying that the Committee of Administrators (CoA) appointed by the apex court to oversee the management of Indian cricket delivered a low blow to milady while doling out goodies to the men. That too despite one of the duo of “supremos” being a pioneer in the women’s game.

For it would require a perverse assessment of the legions of followers of the “gentleman’s” game to rate world record holders Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami as only half the worth of the likes of Axar Patel, Karun Nair and others now included in the C Grade: the lowest grade of players contracted by the BCCI.

They will now get an annual contract of a crore of rupees, but Goswami, Raj, Harmanpreet and Smriti Mandhana are deemed deserving of no more than Rs 50 lakh. Surely Vinod Rai and Diana Eduljee merit only a slow handclap for perpetuating stereotype inequalities.

If there was any revelation in Indian cricket last year it was the performance of the Mithali Raj-led squad that went down narrowly in the final of the World Cup, let down by the lack of experience at the highest level. A shortcoming more than rectified by the splendid showing in both the ODI and T20 formats in South Africa a few weeks ago.

The CoA has not only undermined the performance of the stalwarts but sent out a depressing signal to upcoming youngsters like Jemimah Rodrigues ~ the teenager from Mumbai must be left wondering if all that was splashed in the media on March 8 was a scene straight out of fantasyland, or if the CoA/BCCI was an obsolete “MCP” outfit.

For surely there was little justification in the financial discrimination between ‘C’ Grade men and the women who have succeeded in waking up the cricketing world.

There can be no equating the money-spinning gulf between men and women ~ the filthy lucre splurged on the tamasha called the IPL testifies to that reality.

Yet ridding the game of ugly manifestations of money power was a key element to the appointment of the CoA: has it lived up to expectations on the gender front? If the IPL is to erase the tamasha tag its managers might consider ploughing a little of their profits into the women’s game: a suggestion that two women be included in every IPL XI has been made, telecasting a women’s match before select IPL fixtures is another.

Nobody wants charity: Kohli, Rohit and the handful of A+ Grade players are entitled to their annual contracts of seven crore rupees. But to condemn Mithali, Jhulan, Harmanpreet etc to less than the crumbs that fall of the table….?