Currently, the most experienced player in women’s cricket, Mithali Raj feels that the BCCL should not ‘wait forever’ in organizing the women’s IPL and hold the inaugural tournament in 2021. She suggested that the tournament could be on a ‘smaller scale’.
In one of her interviews, Raj stated that she ‘personally feel they should start a women’s IPL by next year, even if it’s on a slightly smaller scale’. It could have changes in rules such as having five to six foreign players in the first edition instead of only four like the men’s IPL.
‘You cannot wait forever; you have to begin at some point, and gradually, year by year, you can keep evolving the league and then bring it down to 4 foreign players’’ was what Raj shared.
The growing popularity of women’s T20s has been acknowledged by the BCCI. They have scheduled a four-team contest in this year’s Women’s T20 Challenge, boosting cricket betting odds in their live matches. These were to run parallel to men’s IPL. The tournament has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Sourav Ganguly, BCCI’s president, believed that a full-fledged women’s IPL is at least ‘four years away’ because India’s talent pool is perceived to be thin. Raj may have agreed to this statement but stresses that the IPL should boost the numbers.
Raj also suggested that existing IPL franchises could own teams to facilitate the women’s tournament. She has also stated that the domestic pool in India might not have depth. For Raj, the key is getting the existing franchises to form teams, even if just five or six of them are keen to begin the process.
She gave the 16-year old sensation who boosted cricket betting odds on her live matches, Shafali Verma, as an example to emphasize her point. Verma was one of the most impressive batters in the recent T20 World Cup.
She stated that Verma was the ‘biggest takeaway’ from the T20 World Cup for India. Raj believed that Verma deserved a chance at the ODIs too, believing that her age should not be a criterion to hinder her from this opportunity.
Mithali Raj also weighed in on topics regarding sexual harassment allegations against a suspended head coach. She thinks that it is not right on anyone’s part to judge someone. However, as a woman athlete, she is surprised and appalled that such news is emerging amidst the progress in terms of empowering women in cricket and other sports.