January 27, 2023

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Women’s Indian Premier League: T20 franchises sell for £465m

Players like England’s Sophie Ecclestone previously played in the Women’s T20 Challenge in India

The five concessions for India’s inaugural Women’s Premier League have been sold for £465m.

The WPL, held in March, is a women’s version of the Indian Premier League (IPL), the world’s largest Twenty20 franchise competition.

Owners of three existing IPL teams – Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals – secured rights to women’s franchises.

The other two teams were awarded to the Adani Group and Capri Global.

These sites will be based in Ahmedabad and Lucknow respectively.

The owners of four other IPL franchises, Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad were unsuccessful in their bids.

Former England cricketer and Eureka News Now Test Match Special commentator Isa Guha described the deal as “a milestone for women’s football”.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) previously sold the media rights for WPL to Viacom 18 for around £96m.

BCCI Secretary Jay Shah described the deal as “transformative” for women’s cricket.

“A record-breaking start for the inaugural Women’s Premier League and expected no less!” former Indian captain Mithali Raj said on social media. “It will really revolutionize women’s cricket as we know it.”

Current Indian player Smriti Mandhana added that this was a “pioneering step” and a “brilliant step forward for Indian women’s cricket”.

A player auction will now take place ahead of the tournament, which is expected to take place in early February.

Each team can sign up to seven overseas players, with England stars like spinner Sophie Ecclestone and all-rounder Nat Sciver likely to be among the most expensive.

The player registration process has already begun, with former England spinner and Eureka News Now Test Match Special summarizer Alex Hartley confirming her application on social media.

Previously, India hosted the Women’s T20 Challenge, an invitational event that began as an exhibition match in 2018 before expanding to three teams in 2019.

“The most significant development in the history of women’s cricket” – Analysis

Stephan Shemilt, Eureka News Now cricket writer

After years of rumors and misconceptions, the women’s IPL version is finally here. The advent of the Women’s Premier League could be the most significant development in women’s cricket history.

The teams’ purchases mean the league is taking shape, but bigger days are ahead. How much money will the top players in women’s football be worth? More than the deals in some men’s franchise leagues? What high profile coaches could be attracted to the WPL?

Amid all the excitement, there is some concern about the impact the WPL could have on international play.

Players like Deandra Dottin and Lizelle Lee have already stopped playing for the West Indies and South Africa respectively, partly because franchise leagues allow them to make a living. How many more will follow suit, particularly from countries where contracts with women cricketers are not lucrative?

What about space in the calendar? There’s already The Hundred in the UK, Women’s Big Bash in Australia and a short Caribbean Premier League. There is also a Pakistan Super League on the horizon.

Are there enough women cricketers to service the growing numbers of international and domestic cricket? Calmness and rotation have crept into international women’s football, which really needs the best players all the time to remain attractive to fans, broadcasters and sponsors. Can women’s cricket avoid the mistakes made in the men’s game?

If this sounds like a bleak prospect, it is far from it. This is an exciting moment for women’s cricket that offers endless opportunities for players. Still, the game needs to proceed cautiously.

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