Lisa Sthalekar, the former Australian cricketer, feels that while the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is moving in the right direction as far as setting-up a full-fledged Women’s IPL, they are still slow in the process.
Three teams- Supernovas, Trailblazers and Velocity- consisting of some of the top Indian women cricketers and a handful of overseas stars have recently participated in the Women’s T20 Challenge in the United Arab Emirates, but a full-fledged version still remains a distant dream.
The lack of a sizeable talent pool has often been an argument given by the detractors behind not having a full-fledged Women’s IPL. Lisa Sthalekar went on to quote the example of WBBL, stating that Cricket Australia had faced the same situation when they introduced the Rebel Big Bash six seasons ago, stating that as the tournament has progressed, the country has seen more and more girls take up this beautiful game.
The Indian-origin former Australian all-rounder further added that just like the Aussies, India can dominate women’s cricket once they invest heavily in the T20 league.
“I think they (BCCI) are moving in the right direction but slow in planning a women’s IPL and provide enough match practice. The reason why Australian women’s cricket is going well is because we have invested in it. Australia are the leaders in creating WBBL, which is in its sixth year. I still remember in the first year, we had only six state teams. But we went ahead and were extended by two teams.” said Lisa Sthalekar during Australian Broadcast Corporations’ Women in News and Sports program funded by Australia’s department of foreign affairs and trade (DFAT).
“I hear the argument in India that we just don’t have the depth, but we didn’t think we had the depth either. Maybe the teams (in WBBL) were a little bit weaker when we started but we have more girls pick up the bat and ball now and we are seeing quality teams. You have to take a bit of a gamble, but when is the right time to do anything? Probably yesterday,” Sthalekar added.
Lisa Sthalekar also expressed her concern about the uncertainty that has galore Indian women cricket post the Covid-19 pandemic. Barring the aforementioned three Women’s T20 Challenge fixtures, the girls in Blue haven’t played any competitive fixture since the T20 World Cup showdown against eventual champions, Australia, at the iconic MCG last February.
“I know the pandemic and what the situation is in India. But the fact that Indian contracted players don’t know when they are playing next is a massive concern. They are going to fall behind. I feel they are the biggest untapped talent market. If they get it right, then Indian women’s cricket will dominate,” she added.