The BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket In India) has invited expressions of interest from those parties who wanted to own and operate one of the franchises in the new Indian Women’s T20 league.
That is expected to be launched in March, following the conclusion of the Women’s T20I World Cup in South Africa.
The bidding process
Reputable entities are required to make a non-refundable payment of INR 5 lakh (approximately US $6k) by January 21st. That will enable them to procure the invitation to tender, which details the required eligibility criteria for a bid to be seriously considered.
A technical evaluation process will then be followed by the BCCI as they look to whittle down the list of candidates.
Who might bid?
It is widely expected that franchise owners from the existing men’s Indian T20 league will be the frontrunners when it comes to the new competition.
Six of them have already expanded their footprint to take on teams in the new men’s South African T20 competition, SA20, which starts later this month.
The Rajasthan Royals, the Punjab Kings, the Mumbai Indians, the Kolkata Knight Riders, and the Royal Challengers Bangalore have all hinted that they might be interested in owning one of the new teams.
Given that there are only initially five franchises up for grabs, somebody is going to miss out.
From their perspective this makes commercial strength as it helps to broaden and deepen the brand, although there are others who complain of a “closed shop” with little opportunity for newcomers wanting to enter the market.
Why the new league?
There have been calls for women to have their own competition ever since India’s women finished runners-up in the 50 over a side World Cup in 2017.
And they grew louder when they reached the T20I World Cup Final in 2020, losing to Australia on that occasion.
Despite the COVID setback interest in women’s cricket continues to grow in India, whilst the number of girls and young women taking up the game has increased substantially.
It is also recognised that, if they want to compete with Australia – currently the most successful team in the world when it comes to women’s cricket – then players need more high pressure tournament experience.
Since 2015, Australia have had their own version of the Big Bash League for women (WBBL) which has not only helped hone the skills of home grown players, but made them nettle hardened, able to cope with the pressure points in high profile games.
And it has also hoped bring through a new crop of talent, meaning that the selectors have an increased pool from which to choose when picking international sides, helping to raise the overall levels.
It is helped that the same outcome would eventually manifest itself In Indian cricket, although it may take a few years for this to be felt.
It should also be noted that Pakistan are also launching their own version of the PSL – Pakistan Super League – later this year as well.
Last but not least, the WBBL has proved to be a commercial success with viewer figures, both in the stands and on television increasing every year.
It proves that there is a growing public appetite for women’s cricket, both in Australia and further afield.
Women’s T20 Challenge
That has been borne out by the fact that India have been running their own competition, the Women’s T20 Challenge, to run alongside the existing Indian T20 league to gauge the likely success.
Initially, former BCCI president Sourav Ganguly had resisted calls to expand it, citing lack of depth. But before he left office, even he was forced to concede that the time was now right to launch the league.
The BCCI has also solicited bids for the media rights to the new tournament covering the years 2023 – 2027.
Indications are that at least 10 interested parties have picked up tender documents. And if they pass the BCCI screening process, they have been invited to submit sealed bids by January 12.
The fact that the media rights are likely to go for a good price will help put the new competition on a substantial financial footing from the outset.
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