A scene from a women’s cricket match in white ball. (Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images)
A FULL-FLEDGED women’s Indian Premier League (IPL) could kick off as early as next year, with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) saying it is working on delivering the tournament “soon”, Reuters reported.
Currently, a three-team Women’s T20 Challenge is held alongside the men’s IPL every year. However, the demand for a complete IPL-like tournament for women involving more teams and players is growing.
The Women’s T20 Challenge will take place in 2022 as well but according to BCCI secretary Jay Shah, things would change soon.
“I want to assure you that BCCI is not only sincere but is taking all necessary steps to start a full-fledged women’s league similar to the IPL soon,” Shah told Reuters in an email.
“The huge interest among fans and players towards the women’s T20 Challenge is an encouraging sign and we are all committed to making it happen,” he added.
In countries such as England, Australia and New Zealand, domestic women’s T20 competitions have already gained popularity.
In 2020, the entire IPL was held in the United Arab Emirates, while last year, the second half of the tournament was held in the Gulf country as India grappled with Covid-19 pandemic.
This year, the IPL is set to kick off in the last week of March and Shah is confident that the entire tournament will be held in India.
“The circumstances were different in the last couple of years, and we managed to keep the show going under difficult circumstances by shifting it to the UAE,” he said, adding, “The BCCI is keeping a close watch on the COVID-19 situation in the country and if it is conducive, we will stage the event in India this year and I am pretty hopeful about that.”
The board would take a “wait and watch approach” on the presence of spectators, depending on COVID-19 guidelines, the BCCI secretary said.
On Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Ramiz Raja’s mooting an annual T20 tournament also featuring India, England and Australia, Shah said expanding the game was more important than such a “commercial initiative”.
“With the IPL window expanding and the ICC (global) events every year in the cycle, our primary responsibility is to safeguard bilateral cricket at home, with emphasis on test cricket,” he said.
“I am also looking forward to seeing cricket at the Olympics, as that will help the game grow. Expansion of the sport is a challenge that our game faces and we must prioritise it over any short-term commercial initiative,” Shah added.