- You would be bored to death if someone mentions or broaches the topic of cricket being the most popular sport in the country and it is nothing short of religion as well. No one would raise an eyebrow if you happen to simply brush aside those utterances with a wave of a hand suggesting you know it all. Such is the popularity of the game that the country comes to a standstill whenever Team India is battling out in a crucial game. That the cricketers are treated at par with any celebrities and renowned personalities needs no further elaboration. The long list of legendary cricketers getting accorded tremendous attention, adulation, and demi-god status emphasizes the popularity of the game in the country. As cricket lovers, we are not complaining though.
PC: Uday Kaul
- However, Indian women’s cricket could not replicate the mindboggling traction, heft, and recognition enjoyed by male cricket, in comparison, not only internationally but also domestically. Hearteningly, women’s cricket is slowly metamorphosing into something substantial over the years on the back of eye-grabbing performances in marquee events. We all know how the Indian Premier League T20 cricket completely transformed the Indian men’s game over the last decade or so. But the women’s T20 cricket in India was not moving anywhere as compared to Australia, England, and other countries. The Board of Control for Cricket in India had to step in to address this visible anomaly and it has done precisely that now.
- Thus, Indian women’s cricket had a great week as the BCCI announced the kick-off of a T20 Women’s Premier League with five city-based franchises sold for an aggregate of Rs 4,670 crore. Later, the Indian under-19 women’s team won the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa by beating England as well. Inarguably, T20 is cricket’s most commercially viable format. The absence of a WPL meant that Indian women’s cricket was short-changed as BCCI’s attention was focused almost entirely on men’s cricket. The latent potential in women’s cricket was underlined by two aspects of the WPL auction. Three of the five successful bidders also run IPL teams. The auction also witnessed geographically dispersed bidding.
- Women’s cricket is not just a big city phenomenon – Dharamsala and Guwahati saw spirited bidding. Leveraging the commercial potential will provide a booster for women cricketers in much the same way as it did for men. It will now provide livelihood opportunities for a far bigger pool of players. The related spin-off will be more resources for the domestic structure. No wonder, the combined effect will rob off on the international performances of the Indian women’s team. Indian women’s cricket has been always neglected, dependent on the benevolence of male administrators. With the advent of compelling economic reasons to promote women’s cricket, BCCI will no longer ignore it. WPL has the potential to transform the women’s game in India.