BCCI are going to continue the exercise of conducting T20 exhibition matches involving top India and international women’s cricketers during the upcoming IPL 2019. During last year’s IPL, BCCI had organised a one-off Women’s T20 Challenge game at the Wankhede Stadium, with the board stepping up the effort with set of matches this time around.
“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 was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
According to a report by news agency PTI, the planning has been underway for a few months now. But the odds of running a full-fledged women’s T20 league competition in India – like the eight-team Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in Australia or the six-team Kia Super League in the UK – isn’t a possibility given the concerns of over the depth of India’s domestic pool of players.
“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 added.
The report goes on to state that once again there might be two teams in the women’s games with a best-of-three series through the course of the IPL. In keeping with the format of the IPL, a maximum of four overseas players will be allowed in the playing XI.
“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,” the official said.
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 said.
Despite the ‘okay’ from BCCI and Committee of Administrators (CoA), the delay over the final approval over the women’s games is due to the waiting game over the IPL schedule. The schedule is yet to be released and is subject to approval by Election Commission of India with the General Elections to be conducted at the same time. Once the schedule is finalised, the organisers can go ahead on deciding how many women’s games and the players required.
During IPL 2019, the one-off Women’s T20 Challenge in Mumbai was played prior to the IPL Qualifier and comprised two teams – IPL Supernovas and IPL Trailblazers. Harmanpreet Kaur captained the Supernovas with Smriti Mandhana leading the Trailblazers. The fixture was conducted as a means to test waters over the feasibility of starting an IPL-style women’s T20 league following the success and popularity of the India women team after the World Cup. The 2 PM start didn’t get the desired crowd presence despite being telecast live by host broadcaster Star Sports.
In the fixture at Wankhede, Kaur’s Supernovas clinched the thriller by three wickets, with New Zealand’s Suzie Bates, despite finishing on the losing side, winning the Player-of-the-Match award for her all-round performance. The match also featured other popular names in Australia’s Meg Lanning, Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy, England’s Danielle Wyatt and Danielle Hazell, and New Zealand’s Sophie Devine and Lea Tahuhu.