The steady upward climb of women’s cricket in India gained an opportunity to reach new heights on 27 November. Vinod Rai, the chairman of the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) for Indian cricket, hinted at the creation of a women’s Indian Premier League (IPL) from 2018.
According to a news report, Rai said that having female voices like CoA member Diana Edulji and national cricket team captain Mithali Raj has been encouraging to put women’s cricket on a more commercial map. In July this year, Raj had said that the time was ripe for a women’s IPL, but the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) believed the idea was not feasible. According to a news report, the BCCI cited financial restraints behind its skepticism for the IPL. It believed women’s cricket would not have as much financial backing as men’s cricket.
Rai, at the Times Literature Festival in Mumbai, addressed this concern by saying, “In the longer run we may not be able to make it equal because all this revenue is generated from the matches played – the men’s team play more and generate a larger amount. Hopefully, the women’s team will also come to their level in future. So next year you are certainly going to see the change.”
Perhaps this distant change can be brought closer by giving women’s cricket exposure to a larger audience, starting with televising women’s cricket. Even after the team’s spirited performance at the Women’s World Cup this year, sports channels do not broadcast women’s cricket regularly. Given that the IPL has a large viewership, the prospect of women’s cricket receiving that level of attention is exciting. It’s also promising for the prospect of monetising women’s sports in India.