India’s ODI captain Mithali Raj, has called for the board of control for cricket in India (BCCI) to organise the first female version of the Indian Premier League.
The 37 year old, who has played for over 300 matches for her country in a career spanning almost 20 years, told ESPN Cricinfo that the BCCI should no “wait forever” to organise a female equivalent to the successful men’s franchise.
Her words come as other high profile cricket stars have voiced their approval for such an idea, including ex men’s captain Sunil Gavaskar, who believes the competition could help bring through more young talent that would enable India to win international silverware.
India came agonisingly close to achieving such a feat earlier this month in the T20 World Cup final, as over 40 million Indians tuned in to watch the tournament. Acknowledging the growth of the women’s game, the BCCI had decided to schedule the Women’s T20 challenge this year alongside the men’s IPL play-offs, but this has now been suspended due to coronavirus fears.
President of the BCCI Sourav Ganguly has also frequently asserted that the country needs “a lot more women players” if it is to launch a women’s IPL. He believes between 150-160 Indian players would be necessary for the tournament to work, but currently there is only 50-60.
Raj however, says that the competition could initially be on a smaller scale. “I personally feel they should start a women's IPL by next year, even if it's on a slightly smaller scale and with some changes in rules, such as, say, have five to six foreign players in the first edition instead of four as is the case with the men's IPL,” she told Cricinfo reporters.
With Cricket Australia launching a female version of the Big Bash and the ECB announcing a parallel women’s competition alongside the men’s for their new flagship limited-overs tournament The Hundred, there is clearly scope and a desire for more domestic women’s T20. India’ talent pool may still be thinner than that of England and Australia, but as Raj stresses, we have to begin somewhere!
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