There's a popular saying that "You might be even able to make a blind person see but it's hard to make someone see who chooses to be blind". Something similar seems to be the problem with our board who just fails to acknowledge the growing frustration amongst the fans about how the women's game is treated & the lack of will to start a full-fledged Women's Indian Premier League (WIPL) is another example of that.
Sourav Ganguly's era as the president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has been one marred with umpteen controversies & mismanagement. But nothing stands out more than the way women's game has been ill-treated by his regime. From them not getting paid on time to ignoring women's domestic cricket, his regime has been guilty on many fronts. One that sticks out the most like a sore thumb is the lack of a roadmap to implement a full-fledged WIPL.
In an interview given to Sportstar this week, He announced that the Women's T20 Challenge (WT20C) would be back and it would be played alongside the IPL Playoffs. This challenge had gone missing last year when the BCCI pulled every string it could to make IPL happen but conveniently ignored staging this competition. More like a sad joke but funnily enough, in that last edition, players spent almost more than double the time quarantining, than what they spent on the field playing. The biggest problem with this competition is that it feels like a token gesture when the time is more than ripe to land a full-fledged league.
In the same interview, Sourav Ganguly went ahead to claim that "Hopefully, in the future, we will be able to host a bigger women’s IPL once the number of women players [player pool] goes up" which is not just baffling & reeks of complete ignorance from the person who should be at the forefront of driving the game forward. It's a disservice to the huge number of women players who are plying their trade as cricketers across the pyramid.
So, Let's counter this blatant lie one by one. Even with its lethargic attitude towards the women's game, BCCI did conduct the Senior One Day Trophy & Senior Women's Challenger Trophy in the 21/22 season. Even there we hardly got to see the games as they chose not to air most of the games. The Senior One Day Trophy has a total of 37 teams competing in it. Surely that's a big enough pool of players to choose from and bootstrap WIPL.
Now, some might argue that all these teams aren't up to the mark & many of them have only recently started playing in the tournament. The counter to this would be the Challengers Trophy. It had 4 teams with 15 players each. That's a good pool of 60 players which didn't include our best players as some were off to the Women's Big Bash & others were being rested after being a part of the toiling Australian Tour. Again, that's a good number of players to start the league if you have the will to make it happen.
On one hand, where the BCCI President was busy giving worthless excuses for not having a WIPL till now, few state boards have been trying to hold state-run T20 Leagues. Just earlier this week, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) announced the Bengal Women's T20 League with 6 teams. Kerala Cricket Association has been conducting Pink T20 Challengers in a similar mould. So where the BCCI has just been scrounging around looking for excuses to avoid staging WIPL, the state boards are showing that there's more than enough talent to build a league, just need the will to make it happen.
Even if we keep all the logic & reasonings aside and for once accept the extremely bizarre and unfair argument of not having a big enough pool, there are more than enough ways to make the league happen if you really want it to take place. For starters, Start small. Start a league with say 4 Teams. Build on it & increase the teams gradually. Another way out can be having more foreign players for the initial years of WIPL. You could start with 5 foreigners in the XI but gradually decrease it to 4 when you feel there's a sufficient talent pool.
Eventually, the hard fact is that for BCCI & its office bearers, anything related to the women's game is an afterthought. They simply don't care. The ripe time to start WIPL was in 2017 after the near-miss at the World Cup & here we are in 2022, still demanding for one & stuck with T20 Challenges. It's high time for the ones sitting at the top to wake up and smell the coffee. It's high time they get over making excuses. Enough of Challenges, It's high time we got what the players deserve. Nothing less than a Full-fledged Women's IPL would suffice.
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