Can women’s IPL make a splash in its first season next year?



India’s cricket governing body BCCI, after toying with the idea of starting a women’s version of the Indian Premier League for years, has finally decided to implement it.


President Sourav Ganguly and Governing Council Chairman Brijesh Patel have confirmed plans to launch a Women’s next year although a final decision is pending. 


Apart from the need to make the and cricket, in general, more inclusive, there has been growing chorus of star India players calling for a women’s IPL.


They believe it will act as a launchpad for young domestic women cricketers, who can gain the exposure they need as they play with overseas players.


Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma and ​​Jemimah Rodrigues have argued for a Women’s IPL,  and so has England captain Heather Knight.


The has been waiting for the right moment, when it makes economic sense for them to take up the project.


It has been organising exhibition games of the Women’s T20 Challenge since 2018 alongside the men’s IPL. After being suspended in 2021, it is returning this year with  four matches involving three teams around the men’s playoffs.


The 2020 edition of the Women’s T20 Challenge recorded 5.34 billion minutes in viewership in India, which is a 140% increase over the previous editions, according to BARC data.


To test the waters, is likely to launch Women’s IPL with five to six teams initially. So, is this the right time to start the league?


Indian women’s national cricket team is rated fourth in ICC Women’s ODI and T20 International Rankings. 


While the team’s campaign in ICC Women’s ODI World Cup 2022 ended in disappointment, it reached the final in 2017. Shafali Verma, Smrithi Mandhana and Deepti Sharma are among top-ranked T20 players globally. 


Last year, eight Indian players featured in the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia, which has completed seven seasons. Harmanpreet Kaur was named player of the tournament. 


A study by Ormax Media in 2020 found that star players drove the fan base for IPL teams like the CSK, RCB, KXIP and MI. 


There is no doubt that some of the star Indian women cricketers can act as crowd pullers in IPL.


Finally, the performance of players and teams will drive viewership. The BCCI can get some of the existing team owners to start women’s franchises in order to leverage the existing fan base. Concerted efforts can bring in advertisers, audiences and investors. 




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