New Delhi: After the heartbreak of losing in the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup, India captain Mithali Raj said that the time was right to create a female equivalent of the Indian Premier League. While pundits have had a lot of debate on this ever since Mithali’s statement, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) feels that it is not feasible to have a women’s IPL on the lines of the women’s Big Bash League in the current scenario.
Speaking to CricketNext, a senior BCCI official said that while the board is keen to provide the women cricketers with infrastructure and facilities to help the game grow both at the top level and the grassroots level, having a T20 league could be an issue at present, thanks to the financial demand as also the current unrest within the board.
“There is no denying the fact that the women cricketers have made us proud. They deserve all the accolades and definitely this is the time to promote the game in the country and help create a solid foundation for the women’s game to go from strength to strength. But to think of a women’s IPL would be a little far-fetched as it is not financially feasible at present. Also, the current unrest within the BCCI as the board is trying its best to implement the proposals of the Lodha panel at the earliest means that the women’s IPL needs to wait at present.
“There have been a few proposals in the past as well. Current treasurer Anirudh Chaudhry had in fact presented a similar model some time back and it is not like that the BCCI isn’t looking at the possibility. But realistically, it is important to work on the grassroots level and improve the supply line of women cricketers to back the good work done by the likes of Mithali, Jhulan Goswami, Harmanpreet Kaur among others,” he clarified.
Another official said that broadcasting a women’s league could also be a problem, citing the example of the now defunct Champions League Twenty20. “Women’s cricket has got good coverage this time round. But there needs to be more international and domestic games that need to be telecast before going for something revolutionary like having a T20 league. One needs to realise that the CLT20 couldn’t be sustained after some time as there weren’t enough viewers keen to watch the top T20 domestic teams from across the globe play each other. A lot of planning needs to go into the whole process,” he said.
Citing the example of the now successful IPL, the official added: “If you realise, the league wasn’t created overnight. It took two years of planning before it could be launched. Also, if you look at it, the idea of the IPL first came in the form of a 50-over league back in 1995. But then, it was too early and the format wasn’t suited to having the league and the BCCI had to wait till 2008 to have the first edition of the IPL. These things take time and cannot happen overnight. To be fair, even the men’s Ranji Trophy games fail to attract crowds, so the steps need to be taken carefully.”
But the official also added that women’s cricket and its promotion was definitely a priority for the BCCI after the powerful performance from the women’s team in the just concluded ICC Women’s World Cup.
“The BCCI is not just looking to felicitate the women for the brilliant show in the showpiece event, but also financial backing will be given to ensure that women’s cricket doesn’t hold back. We already have a domestic system in place where we have the age-group tournaments as well as the 3-day games. The infrastructure and facilities need to be further upgraded,” he said.
While Mithali feels that the experience of playing in the BBL has helped the likes of Harmanpreet and Smriti Mandhana, the other women will clearly have to wait before they too can gain from being a part of a T20 league at home.