Smriti Mandhana fetches Rs 3.4 crores in WPL bazaar sale

First things first, for all those who thought women's cricket was dull and boring, look at the whopping sums for which players have been purchased.


Smriti Mandhana fetches Rs 3.4 crores in WPL bazaar sale

Smriti Mandhana

Fifteen years ago, when the first auction took place for the Indian Premier League, it was called the IPL Bazaar. As the word suggested, it was like a marketplace or sale, at that time, for players from around the globe. Someone like Late Peter Roebuck, a well-known cricket writer, and former Somerset captain wrote the IPL auction was like a cattle sale.

Today, Peter Roebuck is not there to write about the Women’s Premier League auction, but it sure has sent prices through the roof. First things first, for all those who thought women’s cricket was dull and boring, look at the whopping sums for which players have been purchased. This is outright like buying a blue chip, something which is certain to have good value.

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The big pick of the day has been Indian star Smriti Mandhana, grabbed by Royal Challengers Bangalore for Rs 3.4 crores. You can bet some of the male cricketers will be envious of the deal she has struck. Social media is already taunting the players from Pakistan who compete in their own PSL, a T20 league, where the men from across the border get a pittance compared to the big picks and purchases in the crazy shopping on Monday in Mumbai.

For all those cricket fans who are surprised, nay amazed, at the purse strings being loosened on purchases, please realize this is the norm. India is the epicenter of cricket in many ways and whoever had conceptualized the WPL must be smiling. Back then in 2008, it was Lalit Modi, now a fugitive hiding in London, who had shot to fame being the face of the IPL at auctions, after-match parties, and so on.

What went wrong with the IPL is well known then, around 2010, when Chennai Super Kings got into trouble seriously and faced a two-year ban. Lessons were learned from that scandal where even former BCCI President N. Srinivasan of India Cements fame faced flak. He was the owner of CSK.

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The games have already begun, from a marketing sense

Smriti Mandhana
Smriti Mandhana

Today, the franchises which have purchased teams and are part of the bidding process are aware there are checks and balances in place. T20 cricket leagues have been seen as a fertile ground for betting, even if it be something as small as a state league in India. The mushrooming of T20 leagues is scary but the WPL, which saw so many big deals being sealed on Monday, will be aware the women are seen as clean cricketers.

Sample this, at a time when the ICC T20 World Cup for women is on in South Africa, and cricketers should be focussing on their practice and matches, the auction is a distraction. No, for some, it turned out to be an attraction!

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Sample these picks:
Smriti Mandhana, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rs 3.4 crores
Natalie Sciver-Brunt, Mumbai Indians, Rs 3.2 crores
Ashleigh Gardner, Gujarat Giants, Rs 3.2 crores
Deepti Sharma, UP Warriorz, Rs 2.6 crores.
Beth Mooney, Gujarat Giants, Rs 2 crores.
Shafali Verma, Delhi Capitals, Rs 2 crores.
Richa Ghosh, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rs 1.9 crores.

If these amounts surprise you, hold it, this is just the beginning. For a tournament with a three-week window, the amounts splurged are big. But then, this is what cricket is, be it men’s or women’s. The world knows the IPL never faced recession and the WPL auction goes to show whatever is happening in the stock market and economy at large, cricket is commerce. The best part is, teams, do not have to win and earn trophies to make money.

Sponsors lining up for the teams have already begun. With guaranteed mileage from TV live coverage and digital right sold at a fat sum, the WPL will be beamed to the world. Just imagine, women cricketers from Australia and England, the tough teams, will be craving to come to India and earn money. Even when converted into dollars, this is money for jam.

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It was interesting to read how the BCCI has drawn up guidelines for the five teams, which says the board has no problems with any commercial associations with fantasy sports but not with cryptocurrencies, betting, gambling, real money, and tobacco sectors.

According to a Crizbuzz article: “No Franchisee shall undertake a partnership or any kind of association with an entity that is in any way connected/related to an entity that is involved/operates, directly or indirectly, in the betting/gambling/real money gaming/tobacco sector,” says the 68-page advisory.

For the record, the WPL begins on March 4 and runs till March 26 in Mumbai. Teams will have to comply with a lot of legalese work relating to sponsors on board. The games have already begun, from a marketing sense. Howzzat!

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