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Talent pool will deepen: Sunetra Paranjpe and other women ex-cricketers on Women's Premier League

Updated on: 16 February,2023 08:56 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hemal Ashar |

Ex-cricketers talk about Women’s Premier League auction, exposure and avenues, as Indian cricket opens a new chapter on the pathway to parity

Talent pool will deepen: Sunetra Paranjpe and other women ex-cricketers on Women's Premier League

MI women’s team mentor Jhulan Goswami (centre) interacts with cricketers in the city recently. Pic/PTI

Indian cricket opened a new chapter with the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL) beginning in Mumbai on March 4. The matches will be played at Navi Mumbai’s DY Patil Stadium and Cricket Club of India (CCI) Churchgate’s Brabourne Stadium, with the final in SoBo on March 26. 

Five franchises snapped up players in a recent, lights, camera, action, auction, with some media research firms stating that the league is the world’s second highest league behind the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in the USA. 

Good domestic pool

Former cricketer Sunetra Paranjpe said, “This comes on the heels of our rousing U-19 World Cup win. We also have a very good pool of domestic players right now. This will deepen that pool.”

Sunetra Paranjpe, Silloo Medhora, Anjali Pendharkar and Surekha BhandareSunetra Paranjpe, Silloo Medhora, Anjali Pendharkar and Surekha Bhandare

When Paranjpe was asked about some trepidation over spectator seats being filled, she said, “When the Australia women’s team played against India at the DY Patil Stadium, we saw approximately 30,000 seats full up. Today, spectators want to see keen competition, that is what is the big draw.” 

Better times ahead

Silloo Medhora, who played in the 1970s, said, “the game has truly turned the corner, and this augurs for even better times ahead.” For the former player “her playing era” and “today cannot be compared.” 

She said, “We went through hell. There was hardly any cricket, no competition, nothing.” Medhora cautioned though that, “this money is well-deserved but should not go to the young women’s heads. We do see some of that in the Indian Premier League (IPL) where some youngsters want to play IPL and not for India. The most stirring moment is when the India cap is atop that head,” she ended.

Also Read: Women's Premier League: Mumbai Indians to face Gujarat Giants in WPL opener on March 4

Social change 

Then there is Shiv Chhatrapati Puraskar recipient, Anjali Pendharkar who looked at a much broader perspective. “I see this auction affecting sportswomen in other sports and in a much broader way, our society too. Women still get the shorter end of the stick and that bias starts at home. 

“In certain families if a boy wants to play cricket, equipment is provided quickly. When a girl announces she wants to play, there is hesitation. At times there is borderline discouragement. This has lessened, but not completely eliminated. When families see that their daughters can earn well through this game, there will be much more encouragement.”

Pendharkar dismissed doubts about crowds. “Look at the Ranji Trophy,” the cricketer countered. “Do you see huge crowds at that tourney? There is a change in how we consume sport. With telecast reach, highlights on the device, crowds at the stadium will not matter as much as the women’s game will penetrate households through television.” 

‘So much for them to learn’

For Mumbai’s Surekha Bhandare, a former medium pacer, “The WPL is hugely beneficial, given the money, exposure and avenues it opens up. I am thinking of the girls, young players who will be in the stands, not even in the franchise teams. 

“There will be so much for them to learn from the foreign players in the franchises too. Our fielding is improving, but I think we will have some takeaways from fitness standards,” stated Bhandare, who played from 1974 to 1989 and has also been a coach.

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