The Indian Premier League (IPL) kicks off in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Saturday with the Mumbai Indians taking on the Chennai Super Kings.
On August 2, while announcing that the IPL would be held in UAE, the BCCI said it would also be conducting the Women’s T20 Challenge during the week when the men’s playoff are scheduled. However, when the IPL schedule was announced, there was no word on the Women’s T20 Challenge. BCCI, u der?
Remember the Womens T20 Challenge? Good for you, because it seems that the BCCI hasn't. https://t.co/0tmf8cPuK4?
— Rick Eyre on cricket (@rickeyrecricket) September 15, 2020
Not only do we need a Women’s T20 Challenge, but we also need a full-fledged Women’s IPL to boost the sport in India. It is a view that has been echoed by veteran Indian seamer Jhulan Goswami as well. On the show Off-the-Field, Goswami said, “As far as IPL is concerned, we do wish for the full-fledged tournament to start and we are all waiting for that. Women’s IPL will be a big achievement for the country and for young cricketers as they are going to share the dressing room with top-notch Indian and international talent.”
If there’s something that we’ve learnt from the IPL experience, it is that domestic players have benefited a lot, training and playing alongside international stars as well as Indian players representing the national team. It has led to a discovery of a plethora of talent, with many previously unknown players even making it to the Indian T-20 and ODI squads after impressive performances in the IPL. Players like Ravichandran Ashwin, Hardik Pandya and Yuzvendra Chahal all made it to the national team after impressive performances in the IPL. And they have been quite a find!
There is no reason to believe why that can not happen with the women’s game as well.
A total of 74.9 million watched the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2020 which garnered 5.3 billion viewing minutes on television, according to the BARC. Prior to that, the 2017 Women’s World Cup was also widely followed across India. The final between India and England on July 23 saw ratings breach an unprecedented 19.533 million impressions, according to BARC data. Interestingly, more rural impressions were recorded than urban, signifying the reach of the sport across the length and breadth of India and the demand for it. The data suggests that fans are craving for more women’s cricket, so what’s stopping it?
The 2017 ICC Women's Cricket World Cup marked an unprecedented high for viewership for women's cricket in India.#FreeHit by @suprita2009 narrates the untold story of the struggles of women's cricket team in India. Order now at: https://t.co/bdD4kK9hJ5 pic.twitter.com/DHmudB9Qec
— HarperCollins India (@HarperCollinsIN) December 5, 2018
There is no reason why the BCCI shouldn’t respond to this growing demand and organise a Women’s IPL. It is a win-win for all the stakeholders involved. Indian players get to train and play with the best in the world, it will help them upgrade their levels and be more competitive in the international arena. Broadcasters and advertisers can get lucrative deals and make money from the “First Women’s IPL”, and build a successful long-term property like they did with the IPL. And for the fans, there’s more quality cricket on offer.
The pieces of the jigsaw are all falling in place, it is time for the BCCI to take strike.