New Delhi: The Indian Premier League (IPL) gave birth to the biggest revolution in the cricketing world, bringing in massive attention, great quality of cricketers and high viewership every year, before and during a global pandemic.
But when it comes to creating a league of the same kind for women’s cricket, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been very laidback. The BCCI’s unwillingness, despite a three-team women’s T20 Challenge, means Cricket Australia and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have raced ahead to create hugely popular women’s T20 cricket leagues.
The Women’s Big Bash League in Australia is an outright leader in this aspect while the now-defunct Kia Super League, did well for England in domestic cricket before the Hundred took it to even greater heights.
For long, many have demanded a Women’s IPL, which was either delayed due to citing of lack of player pool or doubts over financial viability.
But ever since the launch of Women’s IPL became formal in 2022 as the BCCI finally found the will and intent to do so, many are now seeing it as one of the big breakthrough events for women’s cricket in what promises to be a big 2023 for the sport after 2022 saw Australia get back ODI World Cup trophy, clinch a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games.
The year passing by also witnessed Women’s Caribbean Premier League as well as Fairbreak Invitational tournament enter the calendar.
And 2023 will begin with the inaugural edition of the ICC Women’s U19 T20 World Cup, an event which was in making for long before Covid-19 pandemic further delayed it. 16 teams will be competing in 41 matches across four venues in Benoni and Potchefstroom in South Africa.
The tournament will see youngsters thrive on a platform and showcase their talent in front of a world which is always on the lookout for future stars in the cricketing circuit.
It will also mark the debut of Indonesia and Rwanda in an ICC World Cup for the first time ever in what promises to give plenty of exposure to young, talented female cricketers.
Then in February, South Africa will be playing hosts’ to the eighth edition of the Women’s T20 World Cup. The benchmark for being fantastic hosts’ was set by defending champions Australia when they got a record crowd of 86,174 for the final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) as the tournament became one of the most-watched sporting events in women’s sports.
March would potentially see the dream of seeing Women’s IPL turn into reality, and see the crowds filling up stadiums, something which will be on cards ever since 47,000 plus people watched the second T20I between India and Australia at DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai, who were treated to a Super Over finish won by the Harmanpreet Kaur-led team.
At the same time, Pakistan will also be launching a Women’s T20 League, featuring four teams and 12 matches, to be held in Rawalpindi. The Hundred in England will also see the first ever women’s player draft in a major sport in the UK, with teams set to select a minimum of four players, and Welsh Fire to make their first pick.
India’s amazing run to being runners-up of the 2017 ODI World Cup brought women’s cricket under immense spotlight. The proof of women’s cricket popularity was again on the show during the recent India-Australia T20I series, where fans came in huge numbers if the tickets were priced or not.
Over the last five years, the sport has taken huge strides towards providing playing opportunities, social media limelight, increased revenue and brand advertising interest for its women cricketers in India and abroad.
The Indian team has got the ability to be world-beaters and with voices from Indian as well as foreign cricketers calling vociferously for a Women’s IPL, it has set the ground for the next revolution in the cricketing world.
2023 may well turn out to be the year when women’s cricket will take centrestage and see the emergence of the junior as well as senior talent in front of a passionate world craving for more cricketing action.