The auction for the inaugural edition of the Women's Premier League (WPL), likely to bring about a paradigm shift in the landscape of women's cricket, is set to take place in Mumbai on Monday
Women's cricketers all over the world have waited for this moment and league for years. The arrival of WPL and an auction preceding it has left players with hopes that the glamour, unpredictability, clout, cash flow and thrill of franchise-based cricket will bring about a massive transformation to their game and lives, just the way it did for men's cricket through the Indian Premier League (IPL), which is perhaps the sport's biggest cash-cow.
Rubbing shoulders with top Indian and international talent and playing against them could make a difference in Indian womens' domestic cricket scene and prepare them for bigger challenges that come with donning the iconic blue colours of Team India.
A total of 409 players will go under the hammer during the auction of the inaugural edition of WPL, which will be taking place on February 13, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced on Tuesday.
A total of 1,525 players registered for the inaugural Women's Premier League Player Auction and the final list was pruned to 409 players.
Out of 409 players, 246 are Indians and 163 are overseas players of which 8 players are from associate nations. The total capped players are 202, uncapped players are 199 and 8 are from associate nations.
A maximum of 90 slots are available with the five teams, with 30 being slotted for overseas players.
Rs 50 lakh is the highest reserve price with 24 players choosing to be slotted in the highest bracket. Team India Captain Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma and India's Under-19 T20 World Cup-winning captain Shafali Verma are among the few Indians who have slotted themselves in the highest bracket.
13 overseas players have also slotted themselves under the Rs 50 lakh reserve price with the likes of Ellyse Perry, Sophie Ecclestone, Sophie Devine & Deandra Dottin to name a few.
30 players are on the auction list with a base price of Rs 40 Lakh. The auction will start at 14:30 IST.
Ahead of the auction, women cricket stars have expressed their excitement for the auction and look at it as a "game changer" and "the next big thing".
"I think it is going to be a game-changer, not only for India but for the world as well. We are excited about it," said Indian skipper Harmanpreet Kaur in a video posted by BCCI.
India batter Jemimah Rodrigues also said, "I think it is going to be a starting point for something massive in women's cricket worldwide. There are going to be exciting talents and matches. These will give us a lot of confidence. Doing well here and then wearing the Indian jersey will take our team to next level."
Indian opener Smriti Mandhana said that it is a big moment for women's cricket.
"I always watched men's IPL and auction and I am really excited that how it will unfold. Hope it goes well, all teams are well-balanced and I get a good team," added the opener.
England all-rounder Danni Wyatt said that women's cricket was waiting for this moment for years.
"It is finally here. These are some exciting times for us and we cannot wait," added Wyatt.
England all-rounder Alice Capsey said that women's cricket has gone from strength to strength over the years, with the U19 T20 World Cup recently being a huge success.
"This (WPL) is going to expand the game even more. It has come at a perfect time. Looking forward to getting picked and playing in India in front of those big crowds," added Capsey.
India men's team skipper Rohit Sharma also expressed happiness and wished everyone involved in the auction good luck.
"It is a historic thing happening in Indian cricket. More than 400 players are going under the hammer. Nervous, but exciting times. I would like to wish everyone involved the very best of luck. This has opened a lot of avenues for cricketers worldwide to showcase their talent. It is going to be massive. We have seen that with men's IPL, WPL is going to be no different," said Rohit in a video posted by BCCI.
WPL is about to change the game for women's cricket and this feeling is mutual among both men and women alike. With such a welcoming reception in cricketing circles after its announcement, the auction and league look all set to be a huge success.
The inaugural edition of WPL will be played in Mumbai from March 4 to 26 across two Mumbai venues and the player auction for the same will be held on February 13.
The five franchises were acquired by the owners of the three IPL teams--Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, and Delhi Capitals--along with Adani Group and Capri Global for a total of INR 4669.99 crore (about USD 572.78 million). This represents the largest deal ever made in women's cricket. The successful bidders were announced on January 25.
(With inputs from ANI)