Women's IPL - Inching closer and closer!!
Image Credits: Getty Images | Nurphoto
‘Why should boys have all the fun’ – a popular phrase by an Indian 2-wheeler firm has slowly started picking up its pace in the Indian cricket arena as well. Traditionally, England and Australia are the two nations to play women cricket regularly. The other nations are slowly moving up the hill when it comes to international cricket.
With the advent of T20, women’s cricket has gained more prominence than before. The women’s Big Bash League in Australia and the Kia Super League in England brought much more spotlight to the women’s cricket. Even though there were a few noteworthy individual players, the Indian women’s cricket as a team never really took off.
But came the 2017 ICC Women’s World Cup, the team put up a splendid performance and progressed to the finals. Even though the team did not clinch the trophy, the women’s cricket finally grabbed the much-awaited headlines in our country. In addition to the legendary players such as Mithali Raj & Jhulan Goswami, the rising superstars like Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana & Deepti Sharma caught the eyeballs of the cricket fans.
As a result, the BCCI decided to experiment, and the women’s T20 challenge took place in 2018. It featured two teams – IPL Trailblazers headed by the flamboyant southpaw Smriti Mandhana, and the IPL Supernovas headed by the dashing current T20 captain Harmanpreet Kaur. It featured players from four countries - Australia, New Zealand, England, and India. It was a one-off exhibition match and Supernovas emerged as the winners. The game fared well matching up to the expectations of the fans.
Last year's edition got a little bigger and featured three teams in a round-robin format with the top two playing the final. The three teams were captained by the Indian players – the legendary Mithali Raj for IPL Velocity, the big-hitting sensation Harmanpreet Kaur for IPL Supernovas, and the elegant southpaw Smriti Mandhana for IPL Trailblazers. Players from West Indies and Sri Lanka were also a part of this edition.
The Velocity and Supernovas faced each other in the final and once again Supernovas under Harmanpreet Kaur reigned supreme, clinching the title for the second time. The emerging Indian batting sensation Jemimah Rodrigues shone with the bat and Amelia Kerr from New Zealand was the leading wicket-taker. The tournament once again received a good reception from the fans.
Following this, the Indian team had a great outing in the ICC Women’s World Cup at the start of this year, reaching the finals but ended as runners-up. The final at the MCG saw a record-shattering attendance of 86,174 and the Indian women truly arrived onto the big stage. From then onwards, voices started growing in support for full-fledged IPL for women.
More than cricket, there is a lot of business surrounding the sport in India, especially cricket. So, when it comes to women’s IPL, Will it be sustainable? Will it attract as much crowd as the men’s game? Will the level of competition be high as it involves more domestic players?? These are some of the many questions that need to be answered.
On the brighter side, the women’s IPL puts the game into much more spotlight than any other leagues in the world. It provides a platform for young Indian women cricketers to showcase their skills at a global stage and gives them much-needed exposure. It brings more revenue which can be employed for the development of the game at grass root levels. Also rubbing shoulders with other world-class players helps to sharpen the skills of the domestic players.
The main factor is whether the audience is ready to view the game dominated by the men for several decades, to be ruled by the women now. Of course, it will take time for the fans to get glued to the women’s cricket as the level of standards differ and one cannot compare the men’s game with the women’s game neck and neck.
This year, the BCCI has decided to continue with the Women’s T20 Challenge, scheduled to take place alongside in the latter half of the men’s IPL. This drew criticism from the Aussie players as the schedule coincides with that of women’s BBL and many of them cannot take part. Also, some of the Indian players contracted in BBL will face a dilemma. But on the brighter side, it allows more Indian and Asian players to be a part of the tournament this year.
Going by the crowd attendance in the ICC events and the social media following, the time has come for the launch of a women’s T20 league in our country. To start with, the number of teams shall be 4-5 because a greater number of teams may expose the shortcomings in the game standards and affect the audience viewership.
Once the cricket is done with these bio-bubbles and the normal action resumes, the time will be ripe for the women’s IPL to commence. Hopefully, it creates a positive impact on the players and the game going forward as it did with the men’s cricket. The days are not far away when the word ‘batter’ becomes more synonymous with the game than the word batsman.
About the Author
The post is written by Aravind. Aravind is a graduate from IIM Visakhapatnam and an avid cricket enthusiast. He follows the game with great passion. More than mere watching, he likes to analyze the game deeply and write blogs.