NEW DELHI: The ongoing Women’s Premier League (WPL) is yet another positive step in the direction of women’s empowerment.
The WPL is also the second-richest cricket tournament in the world, only after the IPL. This became evident from the fact that one of the players, Smriti Mandhana, was bought for a staggering Rs 3.4 crore by the RCB. Such an amount for an international woman cricketer was simply ‘unthinkable’, even a year ago.
Global digital rights
The global digital rights (TV and digital) for the WPL were purchased by Reliance Viacom 18 for a staggering Rs 951 crore, for a period of fur years.
All this proves that the BCCI is determined to take women cricket to its pinnacle. Barely three months ago, the Board had ushered in pay parity between men and women cricketers. By establishing the WPL now, it has given the message that girls in the country can pursue cricket as a full-time career. Regarding the players’ auction, it’s not just Smriti Mandhana who made it big.
Australian cricketer Ashley Gardner and Englishwoman Nat Scriver were snapped for Rs 3.2 crore each. Among the Indian players, all-rounder Deepti Sharma was the second-highest Indian bought by UP Warriors for Rs 2.6 crore .
Still no match to IPL
It is worth mentioning that a few years back, Nat Scriver was the highest-paid woman cricketer with an annual earning of Rs 1.2 crore. The WPL has brought the sort of money unheard of in the annals of women’s cricket.
But the hard fact remains that the WPL still has a lot of catching up to do with the IPL. As against Smriti Mandhana’s Rs 3.4cr, Sam Curran went for an astonishing Rs 18.5 crore in the IPL. The encouraging part, however, is that no leading international woman cricketer could not have dreamt of making Rs 1 crore in a single tournament prior to the WPL.
“The practice of giving such huge amounts to women cricketers will go a long way in making the game more and more popular,” said former Indian cricketer Jhulan Goswami. With the increased prize money, it also means that India becomes the hub of world cricket activity and young cricketers will benefit immensely from this, she said.
Interestingly, former tennis queen Sania Mirza has been roped in by the RCB as its team mentor. “She (Sania) is a fantastic athlete and very tough mentally. We are thrilled to have her as the team’s mentor,” said RCB Director Mike Hesson.
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