• ICC also called into question over tournament weather
The International Cricket Council is coming under fire on two fronts at its World Twenty20 event in Sri Lanka, as the striking gulf between the financial rewards on offer in the men's and women's competitions adds fresh embarrassment to the potential that both could be further disrupted by the weather.
The third women's World t20 begins on Wednesday in Galle, but England and the other seven teams will be battling for a winners' cheque of $60,000 (£37,000), compared to $1m (£615,000) for the men's competition.
In addition, it emerged on Tuesday that while each member of the men's teams receives a living allowance of $100 a day while they are in Sri Lanka, the women are only on $60.
"We're not here for the money, so it really isn't an issue for us," said Charlotte Edwards, the diplomatic and long-serving captain of the England team, who are desperate to make amends for the disappointment they suffered in the West Indies in 2010, when they failed to make the semi-finals. "I'd pay to lift that trophy."
At a pre-tournament press conference in Colombo with the other captains from England's group, Edwards went out of her way to praise the ICC for the support it has given to the women's game. It is the men's tournament that attracts big money from sponsors and television companies, and the ICC has invested millions over the last four years to establish the women's version, which runs at a significant loss.
"To have as many World Cups as we do now, I keep saying women's cricket has come a long way in a short space of time," Edwards added. "Professionalism is the next step, and a lot of the teams are going down that route. This tournament is about more than the individual teams – a lot of it is about showcasing women's cricket."
The semi-finals and final will be played at Colombo's R Premadasa Stadium at the back end of next week, and will be televised live by the host broadcaster, ahead of the equivalent fixtures in the men's competition. However it will be a major surprise, and relief, to all concerned if some slightly more encouraging weather forecasts prove to be correct.
The ICC has already been forced to defend the timing of the tournaments, which come when the weather in Colombo in particular is regarded as unreliable, in the period between the two monsoons which affect the island.
When Sri Lanka staged the Champions Trophy in 2002, one of the semi-finals on 27 September was rain-affected, and the trophy was shared between the home side and India after no play was possible on 29-30 September, the reserve days.
But this was the only gap in the crowded Future Tours Programme, and as of Tuesday night Sri Lanka time, there was said to be a 60% chance of rain on Thursday in Kandy, where England face West Indies in one of the opening two Super Eight matches in nearby Pallekele, and the same probability of rain in Colombo for the first games in the other group the following day.