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A first step to a Women's IPL

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Women's_CricketIt could be argued that the only people who aren’t in sync with the concept of a Women’s IPL are the ones who aren’t in favour of women’s cricket in the first place.

For the longest time now, there have been closely guarded murmurs regarding the inception of a women’s IPL, in a specialized format, to equip the women’s game with the same fervor and passion as their male counterparts.

But none of the steps have fueled the possibility of a Women’s IPL as much as the latest development charted by the BCCI, who gave a nod of approval to organizing an IPL-style contest involving some of the finest names in women’s cricket.

As soon as the announcement was made, around May 16, 2018, social media erupted in its immense appreciation for a step that may signal a watershed moment in the annals of Twenty20 Cricket for women.

Noted names from Australia and England joined the chorus expressing delight at participating in a tournament that could see women cricketers who are usually foes ally with each other aside from ball-smashing and record breaking feats.

 

It’s hard to resist the idea of a Women’s IPL. Who wouldn’t want to see an Ellyse Perry share the stage with the likes of Harmanpreet Kaur and Danielle Wyatt? Who can resist the idea of seeing Mandhana playing in the same team as Alyssa Healy and Lea Tahuhu?

 

Even those who love to engage in trenchant criticism of the format, particularly that the IPL seems so skewed toward batsmen, would note that it does warrant the selection and merit of the best bowlers as far as possible. In a sphere that favours the bat, and willow wielders going after each delivery as if it’s their last to score off, it’s the bowlers who are placed in an interesting position from which to deliver.

The special IPL contest was staged on May 22. Featuring two teams- Supernovas and Trailblazers. The one of a kind contest saw two distinctly talented sides clash head on, helmed by arguably two of Indian cricket’s most famous contemporary names- Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana.

Elsewhere, premium T20 leagues in the women’s game have enabled the rise of lesser known players like Hayley Mathews, Anna Peterson and many other names who have done particularly well in T20 franchises. While Australia have unearthed a rare repository of talent through WBBL, New Zealand have worked painstakingly toward finding their own cricketers through various T20 competitions including the Plunket Shield, Ford Trophy, Hallyburton Johnstone Shield and the Burger King Super Smash.

 

It is about time that India rewarded its dedicated stable of women cricketers with a premier T20 contest like the IPL.

 

If you are an impassioned T20 fan, surely a question must have been hounding you for the longest time: “When on earth will India have their own T20 tournament like Australia and England?”

Ever since the Women’s Big Bash League was incorporated a few summers ago, the idea has changed the trajectory of Women’s T20 cricket. Apart from giving some exceptional talents in world cricket a chance to hone their craft in cricket’s briefest format, the tournament has instilled a newfound ability for players to make their names in what could be called the most popular format of the time.

For it is T20 cricket and not Tests –much to the revulsion of classicists– that’s caused a paradigm shift in helping a sport reach new boundaries.

The rare contest that was keenly awaited for a long time featured 26 players including those from 3 countries other than India (Australia, New Zealand and England). It witnessed 10 contemporary international stars flexing their abilities in a cricketing template dominated by thrill and great unpredictability.

It could be said that seeing talents from West Indies and South Africa would have surely have added more flair to a contest that is no stranger to many a heavyweight star presence.

But for now, women’s cricket can deal with the excitement of seeing some of the most exemplary names put on a great show in the sub-continent, before the ICC Women’s World T20 2018 commences later on in the West Indies.

 

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