Last week, one significant piece of cricket news made headlines. The women’s equivalent of the Indian Premier League (IPL) could start in 2023. Right now, the BCCI have reportedly put out feelers, taking temperatures to see if there’s an appetite among the existing men’s franchises. Three have replied in the affirmative and a few others are expected to reply positively. If and when—and when seems more probable—teams firm up their interest and there is an official announcement from the Board, it will be a watershed day for women’s cricket in India. It’s fair to say that they have been at the receiving end of some step-motherly treatment, but this is a hugely positive development for two main reasons.
Sure, the influx of money, sponsorships and recognitions will follow but it will convince girls that cricket can be a lucrative career choice if they are willing to put in the hard yards. More importantly, it will make the team a better outfit and enable them to respond better to pressure situations. Young players will get the opportunity to learn from the likes of Meg Lanning and Deandra Dottin. Just the exposure of having a guaranteed set of games every year will do these players a world of good.
Take this example. Out of the squad that went to the World Cup in New Zealand, only five have played in T20 leagues. An Indian league will automatically expand the talent pool apart from bridging the gap between the best Indian players and the best ones from Australia, England and South Africa. Australia and England have dedicated women’s meets while South Africa’s women’s players have the most experience in playing in overseas leagues.
The bottom line? The leagues work when it comes to giving players the necessary experience in handling white-ball pressure in the international arena. With West Indies and Pakistan announcing standalone franchise leagues for women, it’s good that the BCCI are finally willing to do what could have been done a few years before. However, better late than never.