Women’s IPL – BCCI Reserves March 2023 Window for Inaugural Edition

The BCCI has set aside a window for the inaugural women’s IPL in March 2023, and the process to get the show on the road is underway.

The BCCI has already adjusted the domestic women’s calendar to accommodate the women’s IPL. The women’s season, which generally runs from November to April, has been moved up by one month. The senior women’s season for 2022-23 now starts on October 11 with the T20 competition and ends in February next year with the inter-zonal one-day competition.

Since 2018, the BCCI has been running the Women’s T20 Challenge, with a gap in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Played as a one-off exhibition game between two teams in the first season, it has become a three-team competition, which includes many prominent players from outside India. But the call to have a bigger league, along the lines of the gents IPL, has been growing for a while.

In February of this year, BCCI President Sourav Ganguly had said the women’s IPL would be held in 2023. “We’re at the level of formulation to have a full-fledged WIPL. It’s definitely going to happen,” he had said. “I strongly believe that next year, which is 2023, will be a very good time to start a full-fledged IPL for women, which will be just as successful as the IPL for men.”

Then, in May, while speaking with PTI, BCCI Secretary Jay Shah hinted at a five- or six-team tournament, adding: “I’m excited about the kind of response we’ve gotten from stakeholders. Existing IPL teams made inquiries and expressed serious interest in owning WIPL franchises.”

The owners of Rajasthan Royals and Barbados Royals have publicly expressed an interest in owning a women’s IPL team. The Knight Riders Group, which is in the midst of a global expansion in the men’s arena, with teams in the UAE’s CPL and ILT20, in addition to their IPL franchise Kolkata Knight Riders, also seem eager to enter the tournament.

The inaugural edition of the Women’s CPL, which will take place alongside the men’s tournament later this year, will feature three teams, including Trinbago Knight Riders, which is also owned by the Knight Riders Group.

While there are rumors that the existing IPL franchises will be given the first right of refusal when it comes to buying teams, they have yet to officially hear from the board. The BCCI is expected to discuss issues related to the IPL for women at their annual general meeting in September. Much of the planning around the tournament will revolve around the sale of media rights.

Enthusiasm for women’s cricket in India, and by extension the women’s IPL, is at an all-time high following the Indian team’s string of good performances in global events in recent years, the latest of which was the silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. A number of senior players, including Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana, the current captain and vice-captain, have expressed support for the league. Late last month, former India captain Mithali Raj also received support as she expressed a desire to retire to play in the tournament.

“I’m keeping that option open,” she said, speaking of the ICCs 100% Cricket podcasting. “I haven’t made a decision yet. There are still a few months to go before the Women’s IPL takes place. It would be great to be part of the inaugural edition of the Women’s IPL.”

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