The impressive performance of the women’s national cricket team
has started discussions in many quarters of the need and possibility of a women’s Indian Premier League (IPL).
Mithali Raj, the captain of the Indian women’s cricket team, has already said this could be the right time to launch such a league. She had led the Indian team to the World Cup final, where it lost to England. However, there are some who say while the performance of Raj’s team was commendable, this is not the best time to launch a women’s equivalent of the IPL.
For one, the Board of Control for Cricket in India
will need to regroup and get its house in order before it can take up a project as extensive as the women’s variant of the IPL. “It would not be right for the BCCI to undertake it right now. There is much more to be done in terms of getting the existing issues sorted and implementing the Lodha committee recommendations,” says an observer.
There is also an argument to be made about the commercial feasibility of a women’s IPL.
“Will advertisers pay for it? Will franchise owners be willing to invest? Will the sport itself sustain visibility to attract viewers in stadiums and on TV?
The BCCI will have to ponder on these questions before taking the leap,” says an executive from a sports
However, there are also those who claim that it makes sense to make hay while the sun shines. “Women’s cricket just had a huge boost with the way our team performed in the World Cup. It is in the public psyche. Why not take advantage and at least lay the groundwork to launch a women’s IPL?” says Indranil Das Blah, partner and COO at CAA KWAN, a celebrity and sports
Even the IPL did not become an overnight commercial success. “You cannot compare women’s IPL, or anything else for that matter, with the IPL. It would be unfair. However, starting small and cautious would be a good idea. Choose smaller and economical venues, maybe restrict the number of franchises in the beginning,” he says.
Stadium attendance, rather the lack of, was the reason the ICC scrapped the Champions T-20 Trophy last year. Experts say baby steps are the way to go as the visibility of women’s cricket also needs to be built. “It’s a chicken-and-egg sort of situation. Some may argue that the visibility could be built around the IPL (for women) while other’s feel visibility needs to be there for the women’s IPL to be a success,” adds the sports
The creation of a domestic T-20 league for women may also help in identifying and nurturing talent.