Women’s Premier League auction bound to grab eyeballs

Maybe, the auction will signal a new era, in many ways. To say that women's cricket will look stronger is stating the obvious.


Women’s Premier League auction bound to grab eyeballs

Women's Premier League

Time flies. On February 20, 2008, the first auction for the Indian Premier League (IPL) was held, with skeptics and experts predicting pyjama cricket in its latest version would flop. Fifteen years hence, not only is the IPL rocking, it has sown the seeds and become the template for many more leagues around the globe.

ADVERTISEMENT

That the IPL is a huge brand with valuations in billions of dollars is no secret. It’s cricket plus commerce, provides thrills, spills, and an ecosystem in itself. On Monday, February 13, 2023, the auction for the women’s version of the IPL will be held in Mumbai, WPL, as it is called in short, promises plenty.

What was indeed surprising is news that on Sunday evening 39 more names were added to the WPL auction pool. It includes the names of Sarah Bryce, Kathryn Bryce, Georgia Adams, Katie Levick, and Babette de Leede. These names may sound unfamiliar right now but once the auction is done and dusted and franchises go back, a happy lot, everything will change.

For all the MCPs (Male Chauvinistic Pigs), a word of caution. Do not mock the WPL, be it the auction or the league itself. This is not the first T20 league for women, with the BBL (Big Bash League) already a well-known product. If anything, the WPL could surpass all women’s cricket leagues as it happens to be the epicenter, in a business sense.

ADVERTISEMENT

Sample this, at a time when fans of women’s cricket are savoring the ICC T20 World Cup in South Africa, all eyes will be on Monday’s auction. This women’s event is going to be about splurging big bucks, already projected at US $ 572 million! Some say this will be an innovation while some feel this will be a revolution. For those who follow the business of women’s cricket, there is a lot at stake here, for players, franchises, and all those who will be spending on the event.

Related: How Team India can qualify for WTC final after an innings and 132-run win over Australia in 1st Test?

Launch of new league, backed by the BCCI has generated huge interest

Women's Premier League
Women’s Premier League

The unique thing is the WPL will be run by the Indian cricket board (BCCI) so it knows more than enough about the market dynamics. At a time when professional sports leagues make more news than serious sporting events involving national teams, there is a buzz over the WPL. Women’s cricket may be more popular in Australia and England but there is everything to suggest the WPL should be stronger and richer.

At first sight, the 12-day window for the new league may seem short. Actually, it is good to have it for just three weeks in one city with multiple venues — Mumbai. The WPL can be broad-based later. The nitty-gritty of venues and exact dates will be worked out later but the focus is now on which players get picked. This is a genuine auction pool where there is a mix of Indians and overseas players. Learning from the IPL, team owners are well-versed in the auction dynamics.

ADVERTISEMENT

Those who have bought teams in the WPL have already propped up their back end –support staff, coaches, etc. As of now, there will be five franchises from Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, and Lucknow. Nothing can stop the BCCI from adding more teams in the future.

That the BCCI has a strong hold on the event should be comforting for all. BCCI sources have said the WPL will feature 22 matches and the format has been worked out. TV is obviously a big attraction, and it has takers. All kinds of cricket have viewership, these days. For all those who think women’s cricket is boring, just wait for the WPL to start. As it is, fielding standards of teams have improved and women cricketers have got stronger in every sense.

Each franchise has 1.5 million dollars to spend, so who all hit the jackpot on Monday will be interesting to watch. BCCI secretary Jay Shah had said earlier in a press release that the WPL is the second-highest-valued league in cricket after the IPL.

The league is backed by Viacom 18 and they have grabbed the TV and digital rights at approx $ 116 million till 2027. Women’s cricket in India has seen a revolution in many ways. In the good old days when the sport was controlled by the WCAI (Women’s Cricket Association of India), players were treated shabbily. That the BCCI controls and runs men’s and women’s cricket has been good in many ways. The lady players get more money, more respect and are definitely better off than before.

ADVERTISEMENT

Maybe, the auction will signal a new era, in many ways. To say that women’s cricket will look stronger is stating the obvious. If the IPL did good for teams and players, why should there be pessimism over the WPL?

In case you missed:

“One of the privileges of playing International Cricket,” Indian Women’s Head Coach does not downplay the significance of Indo-Pak encounter at the T20I World Cup

Ravindra Jadeja found guilty of breaching ICC Code of Conduct

ADVERTISEMENT