Pakistan's cricket board awarded women cricketers central contracts for the first time, honouring the team which scooped gold at the Asian Games.
Pakistan won the first Asian Games women's cricket tournament in Guangzhou last month. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said it would issue central contracts to women players from January 1, 2011, without specifying how much money they would earn. Gold-medal winning team captain Sana Mir welcomed the move. "It's a positive step from the PCB," Mir said. "It (central contracts) was something badly missing and now the PCB has acknowledged that we can play the game professionally and this will spur us on for more achievements."
There are around 600 women players in Pakistan under the age of 19 and around 1,200 seniors, whose earnings are meagre. In the conservative Muslim country, women used to be barred from playing in open fields.
But military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in 1999, made it possible for women to play on grounds, and the women's team came under PCB control in 2005.
The PCB has given central contracts to men since 2007.
The PCB board also decided to increase the stipend for former Pakistan players over the age of 60 who are men. They did it first