Women’s cricket has been growing exponentially for a long time now. The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia with the finals that hosted 86, 174 spectators at the MCG was just a trailer and we have witnessed how the game has grown from strength to strength.
The ICC Women’s ODI World Cup 2022 and the Commonwealth Games 2022 also served as excellent reminders of how the right marketing and push to women’s cricket can scale it to greater heights. Seeing these positive developments, cricketing boards of different countries are taking initiative to start their own franchise leagues to provide much-needed exposure to women cricketers. Among the most notable ones, the Women’s IPL hosted by the BCCI and the Pakistan Cricket Board’s Women’s T20 League will get underway next year and has already caught the attention of fans and stakeholders alike. Besides these two new leagues, there is the Hundred organized by the English and Wales Cricket Board, the Women’s Big Bash League hosted by Cricket Australia, the Fairbreak Global Tournament, and the Women’s CPL organized by Cricket West Indies which are welcome additions to the already packed and loaded women’s cricket calendar.
In light of all these announcements by boards to have their own leagues and consequently the rolling out of the same in 2023, Heather Knight, the skipper of England has solicited cricketing administrators to be more invested in the women’s international matches lest it fades away in the glory of franchise leagues. Currently, the England team is touring West Indies and a common observation made by her is how there aren’t enough spectators coming in to watch the games, how the media is not doing enough, and also how the broadcast coverage has been dismal with reliance on CWI’s YouTube channel for the fans who wish to watch the games. England however is having a tour to remember having defeated West Indies in every single game and will be looking to end the tour on a high winning the last and final T20I.
Reiterating the significance of international cricket and how it is the pinnacle for any cricketer, she said, “It’s so important to keep the international game really strong”. She believes that preserving the sanctity of international cricket is imperative and that it should be looked after and nurtured by the cricketing boards. Adding on, she believes that franchise leagues could affect the women’s game as there is a stark difference in the professionalism of cricket played around the world and the apparent differences seen in the depth and quality possessed by the teams. Lamenting on the lack of usage of modern technology in the series and how DRS was not available, she said, “it was almost like going back in time” and how in domestic competitions in England, it is present and she feels money being used for the right resources is crucial.
She also reflected on how the women’s game could potentially go the men’s way with the trend of franchise cricket taking more precedence over representing one’s country. The proliferation of the same could have different implications for the women’s game is what she reckons as players would want to play less cricket for more money. She also spoke about the West Indies tour at large where England was not massively challenged but there were encounters where the Caribbean side did put pressure but coming back strongly and winning the tough encounters, trying different tactics and strategies have come in handy for England. She opined that Jon Lewis’ appointment as Head Coach has been a positive change and the confidence gained from these victories has been great and, with the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup looming, all wins will help them fine-tune their skillset and get it right.
I am a first year postgraduate student pursuing a MA in Media and Communication Studies at Christ University, Bengaluru. I am a podcaster, blogger and an avid cricket fan. When not glued to cricket matches, you can find me submerged in books and thinking about cricket all the time.