While the 13th edition of Indian Premier League (IPL) was shifted to the UAE last month, a flurry of questions raised on the BCCI for not planning anything for Women’s Cricket. The backlash from both fans and some cricket fraternity came after they withdrew from the tri-series in England amid the COVID-19 outbreak while the 50 over World Cup around the corner. To sort the problem, the BCCI has confirmed the news of Women’s IPL.
The Women’s IPL or better known as Women’s T20 Challenge will take place in UAE during the first week of November. Although it was supposed to be a four-team tournament earlier, a three-team tournament is all set to take place.
“I can confirm to you that the women’s IPL is very much on and we do have a plan in place for the national team also,” Sourav Ganguly told PTI before the IPL Governing Council meeting later on Sunday.
Along with this, the centrally contracted players will have a camp before the Women’s IPL which has been delayed owing to the COVID-19 situation in the country. Even they will have a series against South Africa before the Women’s IPL and West Indies after the league.
However, the league is going to clash the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia – the league which holds an important place in the growth of women’s Cricket there. And Australia wicketkeeper-batter Alyssa Healy has raised the question on the timing of the event which led to tussle with the renowned Indian journalist as well. Notably, the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in Australia, which runs from October 17 to November 29.
Australia’s Alyssa Healy criticised the move on Twitter. “So, the Indian players who’ve already signed wbbl contracts will do what? And all the international marquee players that will be in aus for wbbl? Good luck with it,” she wrote.
So the Indian players who’ve already signed wbbl contracts will do what? And all the international marquee players that will be in aus for wbbl? Good luck with it…..
— Alyssa Healy (@ahealy77) August 2, 2020
While the fans and cricket fraternity got divided in this matter, Indian players supported the initiative of Women’s IPL taken by the BCCI.
“I’m thrilled finally there is some light in the uncertainty and cricket is happening,” said Mithali Raj, who captains the India ODI team. “I am happy that BCCI has not only announced Women’s T20 challenge but also one camp and two series. All this exposure will help the team prepare well for the 2021 World Cup.”
This is excellent news . Our ODI World Cup campaign to finally kick start . A big thank you to @SGanguly99 @BCCI @JayShah and thank you @BoriaMajumdar for your support to women’s cricket . https://t.co/JpJSMGapzV
— Mithali Raj (@M_Raj03) August 2, 2020
In 2019, three Indian players Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues were likely to play in the WBBL teams but they couldn’t due to the dates clashed with India’s tour of West Indies. This year too no Indian players have been added to play in the WBBL.
“Two WBBL teams had sought no objection certificate from BCCI to sign Kaur as well as Mandhana for the upcoming season. It’s unlikely there will be any movement on that now, as the T20 Challenge dates are clashing with WBBL. Also, one has to bear in mind quarantine rules in Australia,” a BCCI official said.
Moreover, there was news that WBBL teams are eyeing to the T20 World Cup star player Shafali Verma and all-rounder Deepti Sharma, but no official decision has been made yet. As per the cricket.com.au report from July, no Indian player has a WBBL contract now. The only Asian player to have a contract is Pakistan all-rounder Nida Dar.
On the other hand, while the one-off exhibition match played between Supernovas and Trailblazers in 2018 in Mumbai, one more team was added in 2019 – Team Velocity. With three teams and four matches, the tournament became successful more so because of the presence of international stars.
The first year’s one-off exhibition match of Women’s IPL featured Australian stars like Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney, New Zealand players like Suzie Bates, Lea Tahuhu, Sophie Devine and flamboyant England opener Danielle Wyatt etc. In 2019, West Indies opener Hayley Matthews, captain Stafanie Taylor and Shakera Selman, White Ferns’ Amelia Kerr, Devine, Tahuhu, Bates, Sri Lanka captain Chamari Athapaththu and Wyatt took part in 2019.
“The BCCI is slowly building towards a full-fledged women’s IPL. Therefore, it is important the process is not halted. Usually, the league would have taken place around April or May but because of pandemic we are having it at this time of the year,” said Raj, who last featured in blue in November 2019 against West Indies.
Former India captain Anjum Chopra said that it’s a good move as women will get to play along with the men’s teams.
“The Indian women’s cricketers have not played a game since the T20 World Cup. Now, if they are getting a chance to play, we should welcome that. If suppose there would have been only the men’s IPL, would that have been fair?” Chopra said to Hindusthan Times. “I understand Healy’s concern but these are not normal times. No cricket has been played by both the men’s and women’s teams for a long time.”
Sulakshana Naik, another former India wicketkeeper-batter, felt that it wouldn’t be a problem since hardly a few players will miss Women’s IPL.
“You’re an Indian and you have to play all your Indian tournaments. This is more important. Maybe the 4-5 Australian players will miss it. They were not there last year also. It’s not going to make a lot of difference. Other foreign players will hopefully play this tournament. It’s very important that all countries start playing. They have to find a new way, a new normal out of this situation and start moving on,” she shared to Hindusthan Times.