The inaugural edition of the Women’s IPL 2023 has started to create buzz among cricket lovers, with the tournament considered to be the next big thing for Indian women’s cricket. The Women in Blue have made a lot of progress in the past year but have yet to be able to win championships. While the team did not make it to the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s ODI World Cup 2022, they did go on to defeat Sri Lanka in a T20I and ODI bilateral series, following it up with a Commonwealth Games Silver medal and a historic 3-0 win over England. They topped these performances still by winning the Women’s Asia Cup 2022 for a record seventh time. India now faces Australia in a five-match T20I series that gets underway from December 9th, 2022, in preparation for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup.
Speaking exclusively on Star Sports show ‘Follow the Blues’, Harmanpreet Kaur spoke on how she approaches her captaincy with the Indian women’s team, she said “For me, it is very important keeping all the players together because according to me, everyone should be able to share their views and be treated with equal importance. I know there are a few team performers who can go out and do well for the team, but you still need your other players who are with the team that need to be treated equally too because sometimes, some players need higher support. So, as a captain, and as a leader, it is my responsibility that I go out and speak to them on how they are feeling and how they can improve as a cricketer. So, I think all this is really helping me to lead them on the field. The most positive thing I feel is that they are opening up in front of me because if they don’t open up, then even I won’t be able to help them. They are trusting me, my plans and my powers and all these things are very important. I feel the support we are receiving from the other team members and the efforts the team is putting in is the reason for getting these positive results because if you have that trust on your team, you cannot lag anywhere on the field. So, it’s the trust factor that we have within the team, is the strength we have right now. The reason we are improving as a team and are able to give results every tournament is the trust factor that is helping us.”
Harmanpreet also spoke about how the Women’s IPL will be a major boost for women’s cricket in India, she said “The IPL is a huge step forward for women’s cricket, because before this, we have witnessed the Australia Board, England Board, they have looked after the WBBL and The Hundred. I think we as athletes have discussed it as well, that there’s a big gap between domestic and international cricket which some cricketers were not able to match, because even if you play well in domestic cricket and then suddenly play international games, you’re not able to understand what to do and how to do it. And someone like me, I was lucky you know, I had Jhulan di, Anjum di who were guiding me as to what to do, how I can perform better. So, some players, they are shy, they cannot open up, so, for them it’s very difficult to play both domestic and international cricket. So, the IPL will be a great platform for players that are really good, but you know for them, international cricket is still something that they cannot change their approach and mind-set overnight. But in the IPL, when they get a chance to play against overseas players, that will be something that will give them a platform, they can play well, they can understand what is international cricket. So, when they are playing for the Indian team, they will not face any extra pressure, because right now, the players that are selected from the domestic teams, sometimes I can see that they are blank, they are not able to understand how to change their game plan. So, to cut that gap, the tournament will play a major role, and we are happy that after the world cup, we’ll get some really good cricket. So, the coming years, with the girls who play in the IPL, we will definitely see some major changes in their performances.”
Jemimah Rodrigues said she is looking forward to the Women’s IPL and also explained how it’s going to impact domestic players in India, “The women’s IPL is going to change a lot of things for women’s cricket in India. I think this is like the best platform for us now that we as an Indian team have been doing so well in all the major events like the World Cup, the Commonwealth. This is just the right time for it to happen and I’m sure that we are going to get so much more talent that’s going to come out from here. I’m sure we are going to get so many different matches and at the same time, I am very sure that women’s cricket in India is all set to go to the next level after the women’s IPL. So, we are really looking forward to it, very excited and can’t wait to go out there and play the women’s IPL.”
Smriti Mandhana also spoke on the Women’s IPL, comparing it to leagues such as ‘The Hundred’ or the WBBL and how they have consequently helped their domestic players, she said, “All of women’s cricket, I won’t say the Indian team or the domestic set up. We keep talking about how it will increase the bench strength. But actually, the fact is that it’s going to help the domestic girls massively because that sort of experience in playing in leagues like this will get a lot of things sorted for women’s cricket. Grass root wise and we have seen how the Big Bash and The Hundred have helped Australia and England respectively in their domestic set up as well as other things. So, I’m actually really happy, the Indian team will benefit a lot from the Women’s IPL, but it’s also going to benefit a lot of domestic girls which I’m looking forward to.”
Catch all the action from Australia Women’s tour of India (5-match T20I series), December 9th, 2022, 7 PM onwards, LIVE & Exclusive on the Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar