The women’s T20 challenge is all set to become bigger and better this year, with the Committee of Administrators (CoA) contemplating to make it a three-team affair spread over seven to ten days.
However, the full fledged women’s IPL is still a distant dream as the BCCI is finding it extremely difficult to get good investors/team bidders.
Last year, the BCCI organized an exhibition T20 game featuring the top women cricketers from across the world at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The two teams were dubbed as IPL Trailblazers led by Smriti Mandhana and IPL Supernovas led by Harmanpreet Kaur. The Trailblazers had international stars like Alyssa Healy, Suzie Bates, and Lea Tahuhu while the Supernovas had Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, and Danielle Wyatt amongst others.
“Yes, the women’s T20 matches will be held this year also. It will be a week to 10 days affair during the men’s IPL. Once the BCCI gets clearance from the election commission and Home Ministry on dates, the itinerary will be fixed,” a senior board functionary told PTI on conditions of anonymity.
He also said that it would be difficult to have more than three teams considering the “quality” of India’s bench strength in women’s cricket.
“At the max, we can have three teams with Harmanpreet, Smriti and may be Mithali (for this year) leading the sides. They play against each other once and the top two play a tournament decider. It could be a seven-day affair,” the official said.
“BCCI would decide the teams as there aren’t any proper bidders who are interested in buying women’s teams. Yes, we might rope in a few good sponsors. So at the moment, the BCCI will have to pay the players, including the match fees of foreign players, along with a decent prize money,” he added.
The problem that BCCI faces, according to insiders, is that a sub-standard ‘A’ team has failed to become a supply line for the main team.
“Kindly check when most of the senior team girls have made their debuts and how many new performers we have got save Jemimah Rodrigues. Recently an India A team lost by 300 plus runs against Australia which tells you the story about our second string,” the official remarked.
The other issue for BCCI is to convince Star Sports to broadcast the event or at least live stream it. It is said that women’s matches has a good following at the second-tier centres but during the IPL, to have another set of crew managing a women’s event may turn out to be a huge logistical task.
(With PTI inputs)