WV Raman: WPL will be biggest turning point in Indian women’s cricket
Gone are the days when Indian summers were only about enjoying the Indian Premier League (IPL). So far, it has been only men wearing the jerseys of their respective franchises and entertaining the viewers with top-quality cricket in different cities. But from 2023 onwards, the trend will be changed completely. It’s going to be a historic year for Indian cricket when the world will witness the country’s first-ever full-fledged women’s T20 league, called the Women’s Premier League (WPL).
5 teams and hundreds of cricketers from across the globe are going to bring unlimited action for the lovers of the game. Not only the WPL will highlight India’s cricketing culture on the world map but it will also showcase how women can dominate the gentlemen’s game.
To speak about the impact of WPL and its other important aspects, News18 Cricketnext had an exclusive conversation with the former head coach of the Indian women’s cricket team, WV Raman.
Here are the excerpts from the conversation:
A T20 league for women, the first-ever in India. How massive the development is?
I think it’s going to be massive because we all are aware of how well the girls have been playing in the last few years. Everybody has been waiting for something like this to happen. And now that it’s happening, I’m sure that it’s going to be the biggest turning point in Indian women’s cricket. You will see a lot of exciting talents and also, a lot of people taking up cricket, which is fantastic. I’m sure, it won’t be long before India becomes a huge force in this vertical as well, in international cricket.
The announcement only has created a huge buzz across the world and overseas players have started to react. How this league will change the face of women’s cricket across India and the globe?
Yeah, of course! Because there were a lot of expectations and anticipation from cricketers from various countries. They are aware of how well the BCCI does things. They would have seen what has transpired in the last decade and a half, with regard to the IPL. And also, they must be aware of the fact that the IPL is the leading brand, if not the brand across the world. The perception is that the BCCI will make sure that WPL becomes a huge brand as well.
Once that happens, and which is obviously going to happen in the future, I’m sure it’s going to be party time for all the cricketers in terms of not only the competitive cricket that they get to play in India, where a huge number of players turn up in the ground. They will also be seen in millions of living rooms and of course, the monetary factor as well. They are hoping that the financial numbers, as far as their earnings are concerned, will multiply on a regular basis in the future.
Years ago, when IPL was a big thing and no such tournament existed for women. Was it a matter of discussion in the Indian women’s dressing room? What kind of talks the girls used to have?
That used to be a bit of a tester as far as the BCCI was concerned because they are trying to test the waters to see what they can do if at all they were going to go ahead and conduct a Premier League for the girls. So, in that respect, the BCCI wanted to get a little bit of reaffirmation, that they can kickstart the mega league and sustain it. So, that was perhaps a good thing for the BCCI to have done because there is no point in just starting something without being absolutely prepared or without being aware of how they are going to run it and sustain it.
As far as the girls are concerned, obviously, the razzmatazz, the popularity of individuals and the enhancement of individual brands through the IPL made the girls always wonder when this is going to start for them. So, they were very enthusiastic that it was going to start sooner or later. And a lot of talks about how they will benefit from cricket. The general feeling was, once this league starts, a lot more girls would take up cricket and also have that kind of reassurance that cricket can be a career option for girls as well.
As many as 1000 players have registered themselves. How grand the WPL auction is going to be?
I don’t know what the numbers are if there is a cap on the numbers that a player can be bid for but, if you look at people who have put themselves in the auction pool, 1000 is a grand start. It’s phenomenal. If you are talking about players registering themselves for the auction and that itself is an indication as to what level this can reach in the coming years.
But as of now, it’s only 5 sides. We will perhaps see another 3 teams being added in the coming years. I’m sure that there will be a lot more who’ll be getting opportunities. But as of now, what this will do is, with so many people finding to be a part of this league, it will create some fantastic competition in terms of the team composition that the franchises will do and also in terms of the teams that they will put out. So, it would be really exciting times.
Who might fetch the biggest deal – an Indian player or someone overseas?
That’s a bit difficult to answer as of now because the dynamics will depend on the availability of the players. Whether a franchise is looking to form a side for the next 2-3 years and also, it will depend on if a franchise is looking to invest in youngsters for the years to come so that they keep dominating for a long time together. So, it will all depend upon the objectives of the franchises.
But, nonetheless, it’s a fact that there is going to be a lot of interest around the world and I’m sure, that it’s going to be kind of a bumper lottery time for a lot of top names in international women’s cricket.
BCCI turned a lot richer by selling out the WPL media rights and the franchises. Is it a sustainable deal from a future perspective?
One thing that we all can take a lot of heart and pride in is the way BCCI has managed the IPL brand. They have had to face a lot of challenges, almost on a yearly basis. Yet, they ensured that the brand must keep going and also enhanced it in every respect. Be it the popularity or the financial numbers. So, we can expect the BCCI to replicate the same when it comes to sustaining and enhancing the brand of WPL as well.
People may say things against the BCCI, but to sustain something like IPL over a period of 15 years, despite enormous challenges is a testimony to what they can do in terms of making a brand a global brand.
Reports suggest that you have been approached by the Delhi franchise for a coaching role. What would you like to say about that?
All I can say as of now is that nothing has been finalised as yet. If something transpires, maybe you will get to know so very much sooner than I do. There was a little bit of discussion but it has not gone into the next stage.
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