Often criticised for their lackadaisical approach towards women’s cricket, and rightly so, the Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI) seems to have finally woke up from its deep slumber. Jay Shah, BCCI secretary, has revealed that the planning for a full-fledged women’s IPL from the next season is on in full swing.
With IPL media rights raking up the mind-boggling amount, the room for dubious concerns about its financial sustainability is closed now. Moreover, several franchises have already indicated their desire to invest in the women’s league.
Despite being the richest cricket board, the BCCI cramps up a three-team tournament every season during the playoffs of the men’s tournament. In contrast, Australia and England conduct a full-fledged women’s league every year.
In an interview with the PTI, Shah talked about the possibility of the women’s IPL, and stated that several existing franchises have shown interest in this project. In its opening edition, the tournament is likely to have five-six teams, and will be expanded gradually.
“This is a project which is very close to my heart. We will start with either five or six teams in the first edition. I am thrilled at the kind of response we have got from stakeholders. Multiple existing IPL teams have enquired and expressed serious interest in owning WIPL franchises,” Shah said.
The BCCI is also in discussion with cricketing boards to finalise a tournament window, where all big players can participate without worrying about international commitments.
“Not to forget interest from outside. We are in discussions with other Boards about the possible window when all top cricketers will be available. I can promise that the valuation of the league, franchises and media rights will stun one and all,” Shah added.
The IPL media rights for the next five seasons were sold for Rs 48,390 crore, with Star India retaining the television rights, and Viacom18 bagged the digital rights in the Indian subcontinent. In terms of per match valuation, only NFL is ahead of the IPL, where each match will fetch over Rs 107 crores to the board.
Fans, however, are not entirely convinced with Shah’s statement about women’s IPL.