Calls for Women's IPL gain intensity
After legendary Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar and seasoned commentator Harsha Bhogle batted for the Women's IPL, Indian Women's ODI captain Mithali Raj has also thrown weight behind it.
As India were thoroughly outplayed by Australia in the final of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup, the prominent cricketing voices in the country have felt the need for the Women's IPL like never before.
While the stance of the BCCI President Sourav Ganguly, shortly after assuming charge was that a Women's IPL, involving seven or eight teams, was at least "four years away", things have changed rapidly since that time, highlighted by an attendance of over 86,000 people at the final of the ICC Women's T20 World Cup at the MCG.
The latest voice to back the demand for a Women's IPL is none other than Indian Women's ODI captain Mithali Raj, who is in the last stretch of her career.
"I personally feel they should start a women's IPL by next year, even if it's on a slightly smaller scale and with some changes in rules, such as, say, have five to six foreign players in the first edition instead of four as is the case with the men's IPL," Raj said in a recent interview.
"I agree we don't have the depth in the domestic pool yet, but the key is to get the existing franchises to form teams, even if [only] five or six of them are keen to begin the process because in any case, the BCCI was going to have four teams [in the Women's T20 Challenge]. You cannot wait forever; you have to begin at some point, and gradually, year by year, you can keep evolving the league and then bring it down to four foreign players."
Like Mithali said, it is understandable that the talent pool in the country is still thin, as compared to Australia or England and may not be enough to comprise eight teams with seven Indian players each. Some simple math tells you that it will require 8*7 = 56 Indian players in the playing XI plus 3 Indian players on the bench for each team i.e 8*3 = 24. It adds to a total of 80 Indian players which the country simply doesn't have at the moment.
However, there is certainly room for a tournament with five or six franchises with five or six overseas players allowed in each team. As you go along, you can gradually bring the cap on foreign players to five and then to four, but, you got to start at some point, no?
Commentator Harsha Bhogle emphasised on the need for a Women's IPL for the Indian cricket team and world cricket in turn to become more competitive:
"Just brilliant to see how Australia raised their game on the big day. They have played at a different level today whether with bat or ball or, so visibly, in the field! I believe the Big Bash has played a big part and that is why I believe a woman's IPL is a necessity."
The original Little Master Sunil Gavaskar's point to the BCCI President wan no different.
"To Sourav Ganguly and the BCCI, I would say is, look at, obviously this year is not going to be possible, but next year, having a women's IPL because that will earn lot more talent," Sunil Gavaskar said eight after India's loss to Australia in the final of the Women's T20 World Cup. "There is already a lot of talent which we see and which will now come to the fore with the performance of this Indian team throughout this tournament. I've been asking for a Women's IPL for the last couple of years ever since I saw the finals at Lord's 2017. That is where you actually saw that there is potential for a women's IPL.
"A women's IPL will make a lot of sense because that will mean there will be a lot more exposure for the women, there will be a lot more talent, which is probably there, but we don't know at the moment, will come to the fore. And then as the years go by Indian women's team will start winning a lot more trophies."
The organisers of Women's Big Bash League hardly anticipated it to be the success it now is. There are times when the people pitching the idea themselves underestimate its potential. The BCCI has enough funds for it to be okay even if the Women's IPL doesn't hit the ground running for a couple of years.
Common sense says that it will anyway be hugely popular in the long run. Because as Harmanpreet said after India's loss to Australia, "Women's T20 Challenge [Women's IPL] is very important for us."
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