The Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) 2021 season is underway with five matches down already.
For India, it is one of the first magnitudes as eight of the current women’s national team players are participating across five different teams.
India’s current T20I skipper Harmanpreet Kaur was the first player from the nation to bag a deal with Sydney Thunders in 2016.
There is an ample surge in the number of Indian players today playing in WBBL, this season’s representation of Indian players is the most by any contingent in terms of overseas players.
Eight out of the 21 overseas players are from the subcontinent nation with five from South Africa, four from England, two from New Zealand, and one each from Ireland and Sri Lanka.
Indian wicket-keeper Richa Ghosh had a brilliant start for Hobart Hurricanes on her debut as she scored a run-a-ball 46 against Sydney Sixers at the Bellerive Oval on Sunday.
Richa missed her half-century as she got out to her compatriot Radha Yadav, who picked two important wickets in the 18th over to restrict the Hurricanes’ total at 125 for 9 in the first innings.
For Sixers, the Indian prodigious opener, Shafali Verma, who did not make a big impact in her first game of the tournament, notched up her maiden WBBL fifty to help her team chase a moderate score in the second game.
In other games, Jemimah Rodrigues (33) and Harmanpreet’s unbeaten 24 helped Melbourne Renegades clinch their first win against Hurricanes.
Brisbane Heat leg-spinner Poonam Yadav cleaned Beth Mooney’s stumps to claim her first WBBL wicket and later picked Heather Graham to end her three-over spell with 2/25.
It’s going to be a huge experience for all the Indian players: Snehal Pradhan on WBBL 2021
With these top-notch performances, the Indian women players have announced their arrival in Australia’s franchise T20 tournament vigorously.
Former Indian women’s team player Snehal Pradhan, who played six ODIs and four T20Is, believes it will be a huge experience for all the players not just in terms of profession but also will help them at a personal level.
“It’s going to be a huge experience for all the (Indian) players, especially the ones who are going for the first time. Not just professionally, WBBL is the highest standard, best paid and most professional T20 league in the world, Snehal Pradhan told CricketAddictor while responding to a questionnaire.
“They are going to be in an environment where it is completely foreign to some of them because some of these players are not first-language English speakers, so they are going to have to communicate with people who are talking in a different language, growing up in a different culture.
“The professional and personal learnings that they will get out of this will make them not just better players but also well experienced human beings. That is something that contributes to their overall development and it is one of the big takeaways for me,” she added.
One might wonder if India has so much talent at their disposal then why isn’t there a T20 league of their own?
Or in other words, the need for a Women’s IPL, whose demand has grown since the team ended as runners-up in the 2017 World Cup to host England.
According to Snehal Pradhan, if these current Indian players participating in WBBL put up a stellar performance then it will be a strong case for them to push for a Women’s IPL to the Indian board (BCCI).
“I think the success of Indian players in foreign leagues will definitely hasten women’s IPL,” Snehal Pradhan said.
“I think there is a big opportunity if these Indian players make a splash in the league abroad. I think there is a huge case to push the development of a women’s IPL because then everyone can see there is a huge commercial opportunity that exists through the talents of these Indian players,” she added.
The BCCI did start an exhibition tournament Women’s T20 Challenge where three teams namely Supernovas, Trailblazers and Velocity compete in a round-robin format followed by a final.
“You would need at least 60 players of which 15 to 20 could be drafted from overseas. Honestly, how many players do we have like Mithali, Harmanpreet (Kaur), Smriti (Mandhana), Veda (Krishnamurthy), Deepti (Sharma) and Jhulan (Goswami)? The truth is we would need players who can be termed crowd pullers,” a BCCI official was quoted as saying by The Hindu in July 2017.
Start Women’s IPL with a four-team tournament: Snehal Pradhan
In November 2020, BCCI president Sourav Ganguly mulled starting a Women’s IPL with 7-8 teams in the next two years.
Snehal Pradhan reckoned that the board should start with four teams first and then gradually expand. The former Indian player also advised the board to approach the current franchises (in men’s IPL) to start a women’s team.
“There are definitely good signs building over the last four years and now is the time to start. Start with a four-team tournament, extend the expression of interest to all the existing teams,” Snehal Pradhan reckoned.
“If anyone is interested they can have the first choice. I am sure out of the eight and soon to be 10 teams there will certainly be four teams who would want to start women’s sides.
“Start with that much, maybe six teams or four teams and then build up to a full women’s IPL with eight or ten teams five years down the line,” she signed off.
Only time will tell when will the Indian fans enjoy the much-anticipated Women’s IPL till then enjoy the WBBL.
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