Indian Women’s Cricket has seen a drastic change post-2017 ICC World Cup which not only witnessed an increased number of games but also in money. However, a recent report published from The Sports Law and Policy Centre, titled ‘An Equal Hue: The Way Forward for the Women in Blue’, by Snehal Pradhan, former India cricketer, journalists Karunya Keshav and late Sidhanta Patnaik, asks for more investment, structural changes within the BCCI administration, and Women’s IPL as well.
Along with this, creating an ecosystem to help young girls take to cricket at school level is also included in the report. According to the report, this is the right time to start the Women’s IPL. However, the BCCI hosted exhibition matches during the IPL to popularise the format and test if it can be a format to invest for a long run and it became successful.
“There is enough depth (of talent) in India for it to be started with four teams. What we need right now is for players who play at state level to be drafted for women’s IPL,” the report suggested.
“There is an internal belief that we should start with four teams now. Align them with four of the present eight franchisees in IPL. Have that next year. This is a proven successful model—it happened with the Australian Football League where a women’s eight team competition was started as compared to 18 teams in the men’s competition. It has now grown to 14 teams in three-four years,” the report added.
The writers of the report further added that an IPL like tournament can be helpful to create a pool of players for the future. They gave the example of Women’s Big Bash League which ensures more talent and better players come through every year.
Another important suggestion that the reports suggested that there is a different governance structure for women’s cricket in BCCI. Currently, the general manager in-charge of domestic cricket looks after women’s cricket. However, the report further suggested that with BCCI doesn’t invest in grass root level cricket—schools and colleges and the players come under the radar from U-19 level only.
“There is no clarity who runs women’s cricket presently within BCCI. The BCCI operations presently in place does not allow it to give focused attention to women’s cricket. They handle all domestic cricket for both genders. Separate the women’s division within it,” revealed Pradhan and Keshav.
“Twenty per cent girl cricketers in our survey said their families told them not to take up cricket; 33 per cent said their extended family, friends, neighbours discouraged them from taking up the sport. BCCI should put in place a long-term marketing campaign to change perceptions,” the report added.
Having a limited talent pool of players, Indian women’s cricket faced hurdle as well. They lost two ICC World Cup finals in 2017 and 2020. Moreover, only five players of the T20I team, that reached the finals of the ICC T20 World Cup earlier this year, came from big cities. Apart from them, others belong to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities or small towns.
However, the report also urged BCCI to create a talent-spotting mechanism for those cricketers who stayed in backward places but can be the next big thing for the Indian Women’s Cricket in future.