Should there be an IPL for women?
Since its inception, the IPL has become one of the most popular cricketing events in the world. Apart from the fact that the tournament showcases the best cricketing talent from all parts of the world in a common pool, IPL’s popularity also stems from the way it is marketed and promoted across all possible media channels.
It is also important to note here that the widespread adoration among fans all over the world for the players and for the tournament system has contributed to the energetic and extensive promotion of the IPL.
Women’s cricket, in contrast, doesn’t really boast of such active and passionate fan following among the masses. Even an important tournament like the World Cup often goes unnoticed, as witnessed during the recently concluded edition earlier this year. This, in spite of the fact that the broadcasting channels tried to come up with various innovative ad campaigns to captivate the attention of the potential audiences from all over the country. But whether or not the audiences found general knowledge questions about women’s cricket intriguing – as shown in the ads – the empty stands in the stadiums and the low television rating points (TRPs) told a different story altogether about viewership of the women’s World Cup games.
Clearly, there is a crying need for women’s cricket to find a way to get the attention it deserves. And that’s where a tournament like the IPL can come in. An IPL-style event in the women’s cricketing domain can indeed pave the way for some much-needed publicity for the much-ignored version of the game. The breathtaking pace, the feverish excitement, the glitz and the glamour that such a tournament can bring would only be good for the game.
That said, a tournament like the IPL for women, if it does come into being, needs to be carefully planned. No stone can be left unturned while introducing the event to the masses – owing to the preconceived misgivings that most people have towards women’s cricket, the breaking-in period of a women’s IPL tournament would almost literally be a make-or-break situation for it. If it doesn’t take off right from the start, it likely never will.
Even aside from the planning, the execution of the tournament has to be smooth and seamless in order to come close to replicating the success of the men’s IPL model. The IPL didn’t become a gigantic success just because it was built on a brilliant concept; it became so wildly popular because every aspect of it was managed flawlessly, or as close to flawlessly as possible. There will have to be variations – certainly – from the original IPL model, because men’s cricket is vastly different from women’s cricket. Boundaries could perhaps be shortened to ensure more big hits, field restriction rules could be altered to increase the pace of play, and maybe even bouncers could be allowed so as to even the contest between bat and ball. Some measures, no matter what they are, would be necessary to bring about the massive tidal change in the attitude of the public that is needed to ensure the engagement of their attention span towards women’s T20 cricket.
Alongside these aspects of promotion and marketing strategy, a potential IPL in women’s cricket would also need to consider other pressing obligations of the players. For those women cricketing professionals who balance their familial responsibilities and duties with their professional commitments, the scheduling of the tournament would become a pivotal factor to be considered. Also, in case of certain cricketers involved in other sports like track and field and football, any proposed IPL would need to allow the players enough time to focus on their other professional commitments.
Identifying these considerations and employing the best recourse to suit the needs of every party involved won’t be an easy task. To come up with a tournament that befits the concept and which showcases the best of women’s cricketing talent before the world will take time. But with the right kind of push, the day won’t be too far before women’s cricket is presented to the world with as much hype and publicity as it deserves.
By Rohinee Iyer
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