The WBBL could be in trouble if CA is complacent

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For eight years, the Big Bash League has been the benchmark for women’s domestic T20 cricket around the world.

One of the key drawcards for the WBBL, unlike the Big Bash League, is the ongoing presence of leading Australian players such as Meg Lanning, Alyssa Healey and Ellyse Perry, ensuring fans get to see the best.

However, what lies on the horizon now that The Hundred competition has completed its second season, while the BCCI has recently approved the Women’s Indian Premier League?

The WBBL could become as relevant as their Australian Women’s T20 Cup once was.

The Hundred
As with the WBBL when it first started, the Women’s edition of The Hundred is currently being held as double-headers with their male counterparts.

At the completion of the inaugural season, it was revealed that 55 per cent of all tickets sold throughout the season were bought by people who had never bought one before, and that several records were set with regards to television viewing and match attendance figures, particularly for the women’s matches.

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Former England women’s captain Charlotte Edwards said that the tournament had “single-handedly changed women’s cricket in this country.”

While it remains early days for The Hundred, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have shown that by ‘inventing’ a new cricketing format over ‘reinventing’ their T20 cricket competition they back themselves.

Fans have flocked to the concept, international players across the gender-divide are enjoying it, and while not a direct competitor, any expansion in the amount of games played could restrict player availabilities for the beginning of the WBBL tournament in years to come.

Women’s IPL
While the Indian Premier League was established in 2008, and thus sparking the T20 franchise craze, its tumultuous history has probably played a role in it taking this long for one of the most powerful voices in international cricket to take the step towards the women’s game.

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Impressive team performances on the international stage have lifted the profile of women’s cricketers throughout the country of India, which in turn has lifted not only the amount of younger female players to take up the game but also the playing standard.

The Indian women’s side boasts some of the best players in the world, with the influx of local cricketers also lifting their game. Plus the international window that will be cleared on the calendar to ensure all international players are available for selection in the IPL means it could be huge for women’s sport in India.

The cashed-up BCCI will no doubt let their money talk to ensure that their latest competition is a success.

Players the world over will play in The Hundred, the Women’s IPL, and the WBBL but eventually all three will expand and there is only so long that boards will allow their players to compete in an opposing tournament.

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The Hundred finished on 3 September, just weeks prior to the beginning of the WBBL. It remains to be seen when the Women’s IPL will be staged but at some point, these timeframes between tournaments will leave some international boards a little less friendly when it comes to releasing their players.

Unfortunately, some players will eventually chase the cash, especially if they don’t see themselves satisfied with the role they are playing within their current team, and will be guns for hire on the T20 circuit.

One must hope Cricket Australia have plans in place to continue to keep the women’s competition relevant in the face of rising opposition.

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