January 25, 2023 witnessed a new milestone being set in the Indian women’s cricketing set-up after the BCCI announced the five franchises of the Women’s Premier League. The Indian cricket board turned richer by earning Rs 4669.99 crore from the sale of five teams, with Adani Sportsline shelling out a massive Rs 1289 crore for the Ahmedabad side, which emerged as the most expensive franchise.
IPL team owners Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals made successful bids of Rs 912.99 crore, Rs 901 crore and Rs 810 crore, respectively, to enter the WPL. Capri Global Holdings got the Lucknow franchise for Rs 757 crore.
So far, the board is done with selling the media rights and the participating teams. The next stage includes the players’ auction, fixture announcement and finalising the venues.
After making the path-breaking announcement, the BCCI top brass addressed the media where they were asked about the WPL fixture.
Reacting to the question, IPL Governing Council Arun Singh Dhumal said, “With regard to the first season, we are still holding discussions. We first need to finalise the schedule and we’ll see what makes more sense. The Women’s World Cup is going on and we don’t have a big window between that getting finished and the start of the Men’s IPL. So, whatever window would be available, we’ll analyse the logistical challenges and then will take a call on whether it be a multi-city league or a single-city.”
It was also stated that a total of 22 games will be played in the inaugural season. However, the final fixture is yet to be rolled out.
BCCI secretary Jay Shah, who was also present at the presser, spoke about the team compositions in the tournament. Like in men’s IPL, a maximum of four overseas players are allowed per team. But the number would be five in the WPL.
“As far as the break-up is concerned, five foreign players are allowed in the XI; four out of full members and one out of associates,” Shah told reporters.
On being asked why one player from associate-member teams, Shah said, “Because the way Thailand and Malaysia cricketers are playing, we just need to encourage them.”
Last year, the BCCI announced a pay parity in its ecosystem which means both men and women cricketers will draw an equal amount of match fee across formats. Shah opined that the decision of equal pay has changed the mindset of the parents who never favour sending their girls into women’s cricket.
“It’s a time when women empowerment is prevalent so people are very to invest in women’s cricket. And I’m pretty confident that we will see some good girls coming out of the districts, cities and states. Also, before pay parity, women players used to get 30-40 lakhs per year but now, they earn 3 crore a year,” Shah said.
“Earlier, their parents were also reluctant about sending their girls into cricket and were concerned about their futures. But following pay parity, that thinking has also changed,” he added.