Fri. Mar 24th, 2023

Women’s cricket is set to be transformed with the looming Women’s Indian Premier League (Photo by … [+] Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Amid the growing heft of women’s cricket, underlined by the unforgettable 2020 women’s T20 World Cup final between Australia and India in front of 85,000 fans at the MCG, it was only a matter of time before India’s cash-rich governing body got deadly serious.
Ahead of the inaugural Women’s Indian Premier League launching in March, Viacom 18 will pay 9.51 billion Indian rupees ($116 million) for the media rights for the next five years. The value per-game is around $1 million.
Disney Star, Sony and Zee were among other broadcasters in a closed-bid auction in Mumbai, according to reports in India. It is reportedly the third largest deal for a women’s sports league behind the WNBA and soccer’s Women’s Super League in England.
“This is massive for women’s cricket. After pay equity…bidding for media rights for Women’s IPL marks another historic mandate,” India’s cricket boss Jay Shah said.
“It’s a big and decisive step for empowerment of women’s cricket in India, which will ensure participation of women from all ages.”
With a more dedicated approach from administrators amid serious investment, it’s undoubtedly a major moment for women’s cricket in India and beyond. If India, who had been traditionally reticent towards women’s cricket until recent times, are genuinely committed then a ripple effect should ensue given their undisputed clout in the cricket world.
Women’s cricket developed much faster in Australia and England – countries who have long dominated on field amid professionalisation – but South Asian countries, for reasons which can be complex and cultural, have been held further back.
India, however, made steps in 2018 by launching a three-team Women’s T20 Challenge staged alongside the men’s money-spinning IPL. But it wasn’t really enough and paled in comparison with Australia’s successful Women’s Big Bash League with the country’s centrally contracted players earning around $130,000 a year, making them the highest-remunerated female athletes in Australia.
Australia’s top players are well remunerated (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)
With India showing improvement on-field amid a global surge towards women’s sport, there had been pressure on India’s administrators to establish a women’s equivalent of the IPL.
And they’ve responded with a five-team women’s IPL set to feature 20 games. A salary cap might be around $4 million per team, which would be significantly more than the WBBL.
Much like the IPL, it would almost surely attract the world’s best players and cause a standstill in the calendar.
“The introduction of the Women’s IPL is going to change the landscape of women’s cricket globally forever,” said Australia spinner Jess Jonassen, who empathically put her hand up to take part in the inaugural edition.
“If the Women’s IPL can kick off anywhere near what the men’s IPL is then it is going to change a lot of female cricketers’ lives.
“It puts the game on the map even more. There is a genuine pathway domestically starting to shine through.”
Jess Jonassen was keen to join the women’s IPL (Photo by Albert Perez – CA/Cricket Australia via … [+] Getty Images)
As Jonassen notes, it could well fuel an uptick of interest for girls coming through the ranks, particularly in South Asia. Talent is obvious in these cricket-mad parts of the globe, but a lack of funding has long been a bane.
Jonassen on Monday was part of Australia’s eight-wicket ODI thrashing of Pakistan, who are still winless over the women’s cricket superpower. They have the makings of a decent side, but the gulf of professionalism was evident in the teams.
The Pakistan Cricket Board, however, late last year announced a four-team women’s T20 league, which was originally meant to run alongside the upcoming men’s Pakistan Super League, but likely to be staged separately later in the year.
“A women’s PSL will be huge in developing women’s cricket and will be a great product,” then PSL boss Ramiz Raja told me in October.
With major new leagues emerging amid a bucketload of cash, women’s cricket is set to considerably strengthen in the sport’s key breeding ground of South Asia in what is surely the start of a whole new exciting landscape.


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