Considering India women’s impressive run in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, where they emerged finalists, former India batsman Sunil Gavaskar has urged BCCI President Sourav Ganguly to conduct a Women’s IPL starting next year, which he feels would go a long way in unearthing more talented women cricketers across the country. Also Read - MS Dhoni Hardly Sat in Business Class During Domestic Flights, Preferred Sitting With TV Crew: Sunil Gavaskar
Gavaskar reckons such a tournament should be organised even if there aren’t sufficient teams, believing a potential road map will help usher women cricketers into a new era, which should see them win ICC trophies. Also Read - Easy to Talk About Taking Pay Cuts if it Doesn't Hurt You: Sunil Gavaskar Takes Dig at Ashok Malhotra
“To Sourav Ganguly and the BCCI, I would like to say, maybe next year, look at having a women’s IPL because that will unearth a lot more talent. There is already a lot of talent which we see and that will come to the fore with this performance of this Indian team throughout this tournament,” Gavaskar told India Today. Also Read - MS Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly Two Defining Captains in Contemporary Cricket: Ashish Nehra
“Even if there are not eight teams, a women’s IPL will make a lot of sense. There will be a lot more exposure for women. A lot more talent, which is there but we don’t know at the moment will come to the fore. And then, as the years go by, Indian women’s team will start winning a lot more trophies.”
The closest the BCCI has come to a women’s IPL is the introduction of the Women’s T20 Challenge, the first edition of which was held in 2018, followed by season two in 2019. Ganguly had earlier stated that a full-fledged women’s IPL may still be approximately “four years away” considering a lot more women cricketers would be needed for a tournament of such proportion to go ahead.
But considering the rapid strides India’s women team has made in the last few years during which they have reached the final of World Cup in 2017, semi-final of 2018 World T20 and most recently, the final of the T20 World Cup, Gavaskar feels the time is right for the concept of women’s IPL to be pushed through.
“They are already doing a lot and which is the reason why this Indian women’s team has progressed so much. They went to Australia almost a month before the tournament started, and played a three-match T20I series (tri-series) against the Australians,” he said. “They did well over there. They were very well acclimated to the conditions and the pitches in Australia. So you have got to give credit to the BCCI for having done that.”
Gavaskar’s concern also stems from the fact that not many women cricketers are exposed to global T20 leagues. Barring Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet Kaur and few more, no India woman cricketer features in international T20 leagues and Gavaskar expects Ganguly to change it and give cricketers more freedom to go and play abroad.
“The Australian cricket board has backed the Australian women’s team for a long, long time. The Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) has given plenty of opportunities to players, even our players,” he said.
“The likes of Smriti Mandhana, Harmanpreet they have played in the WBBL. That is the tournament where you get to play against the best players and learn from that. That certainly has helped them to find many more players, just like the IPL has helped them to find many more players – the Indian men’s cricket team.”