How Far Is Women’s IPL Now?
It was cold breezing July morning in London last year when two captains — Mithali Raj and Heather Knight enthusiastically made a call about the Indian Premier League (IPL) type of tournament for the women playing the sport across the globe.
The two finalists of the 2017 Women’s World Cup had done enough to raise some eyeballs by some superlative performances throughout the course of the tournament. However, the response then from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was rather lukewarm to the idea.
Nearly 10 months after BCCI first made a statement; the body organized a match which was played at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai before the start of the first Qualifier between Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad. The game did feature a blend of Indian and Foreign faces but didn’t turn out as BCCI would have expected it to be.
Since the one-off game was organized on a short notice, the brand endorsement, spectators, viewership wasn’t up to the mark and would have certainly led BCCI tinker with what they would have planned for the coming years.
However, just 6 months down the line, the Indian team has once again produced a cracker performance in an ICC tournament by upstaging all the teams of their group and occupying a semi-final berth and letting the official give a serious thought on Women’s IPL.
But how far is Women’s IPL? Can one expect it to begin next year?
These are probably two questions which every cricket enthusiast would be asking after seeing the dream stint of the Indian team on the Caribbean soil. Harmanpreet Kaur-led Indian team has shown the consistency which eventually led the World to talk about them.
The mix of young and experienced talent has made the Indian team look professionals on the field. Interestingly, if one rewinds the clock to the year 2007 when Indian Men’s team had triumph victory against the arch-rivals Pakistan in the final of the T20 World Cup, the team was somewhat in a similar state to what the Women’s team is right now.
Who would have even thought that one-year post-India’s T20 World Cup win; the BCCI will incarnate the ‘cash-rich’ Indian Premier League?
11 years ago, the idea to convince the businessmen around India to invest their money in a ‘domestic’ league would have taken a lot of convincing. With nothing of this sort running in the World and to scrap ICL which was doing decently then, was certainly a tough task and one will have to say that the board did it firmly.
The popularity which the tournament got is known to every cricket fan now but what made the board talk firmly to the businessmen’s? What made businessmen’s agree to something they haven’t heard before? What BCCI had in hand to show? — A T20 World win with 16 World Cup winning players in their prime form and thousands who are still waiting for their opportunity.
From 2008 to present, the Cricket itself has come a long way with almost everything which one can think of is right in front of us. Today the leagues are being organized by almost every Test playing nation in the World which eventually is helping them deliver better at the International stage. But it was BCCI which led populous think that even this is possible.
Years down the line, Women’s Cricket is in a similar stage. Though Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) and English T20 league have already begun and the likes of Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana taking huge steps, Women’s IPL hasn’t shown many signs.
Can this World Cup stint prove to be the difference in the current mindset?
There’s not even an inch doubt that Indian Women’s team have played to their caliber and have produced some dazzling performances upfront, but seeing just the bunch of spectators involved right throughout the course of tournament and not giving the leverage it deserves, Women’s IPL might have to wait a bit more to be in action.
On the other hand, seeing this as Mithali Raj’s last T20 World Cup and Jhulan Goswami already calling it a day in the shortest format, the team will lack their experience. In these circumstances, the involvement of the current Indian team with the overseas stars may become pivotal for them to continue playing good cricket.
The leagues running overseas isn’t helping Indian Cricket largely as not many are getting a chance to play along with the greats this game has produced. In these circumstances, the team may lose out on something which other nations are gaining.
The idea to make this sport look equally for both men and women would also come down to the involvement of money. For parents letting the girl child pursue sports, and especially cricket, the paradigm shift should happen now.
In the end, the team is doing all right to make this thought come in the picture, it’s up to the board, fans, spectators, journalist, and everyone involved with this game to ‘believe’ in this. Because, if not now, then when?