Guwahati: Ever since the BCCI put pen to paper on conducting the women’s IPL, there have been numerous speculations on the composition of franchises, and the most obvious question regarding the cities the five proposed franchises are going to represent.
Well, there’s good news for the cricket fans in the North East. The newly-elected joint secretary of the national cricket board, Devajit Saikia, on Wednesday, revealed that the formalities for the team formation, headquartered in Guwahati, have almost been finalised.
“We are going to start the women’s IPL in the next three-four months, it will be played between five teams. We have put forward our request to have a team, representing the North East, primarily headquartered in Guwahati. Our request has almost been finalised and accordingly, the Barsapara Cricket Stadium will be the new team’s home ground,” Saikia said.
In an interaction with EastMojo, Saikia said the IPL governing council, chaired by former board treasurer Arun Dhumal, has already started working on the modalities of the league, including the composition of the franchises, which according to a board circular, will initially start with five overseas players in the Playing XI. The inaugural women’s IPL will tentatively be held in March 2023, immediately after the conclusion of the Women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa.
“The IPL governing council has already come up with a circular on the WIPL. Each team will comprise 18 players, and no team can have more than six overseas players. Further, no more than five overseas players – four from Full Members of the ICC and one from Associate Members can be part of the playing eleven. They are also considering the inclusion of a few local players, representing the respective region/city. The picture will be clearer in a few weeks from now,” he said.
The women’s IPL has been in the pipeline for almost five years now and had gathered momentum ever since the national team reached the final of the 2017 WODI World Cup. Considering the growing fan base for women’s cricket in the country, the national cricket board first organised the women’s T20 Challenge in 2018, when two teams – Trailblazers and Supernovas – played a one-off match ahead of IPL Qualifier 1 at the Wankhede Stadium.
In the following year, another team – Velocity – was introduced, making it a three-team affair. The BCCI took the third edition to the UAE owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. The tournament saw three teams playing three matches followed by the final.
In 2021, the tournament was called off as it clashed with India’s tour of Australia, while in 2022, the T20 Challenge, featuring the three teams returned to action with all their matches played in Pune.
Meanwhile, Saikia also threw light on Guwahati’s hopes of hosting a few of the men’s IPL games, in the upcoming 11th season of the cash-rich tourney. In 2020, the Barsapara Stadium in the city was supposed to host three matches before the Covid-19 pandemic snatched the opportunity.
“As far as the men’s IPL is concerned, we were unlucky to miss the opportunity to host three matches in 2020 due to Covid-19. Even the dates were finalized for the three games (April 5, 9 and 11) before the tournament was forced to move out of India. However, this year, we are expecting at least four games in Guwahati (either Kolkata Knight Riders or Rajasthan Royals),” he said.
“I had a detailed meeting with one of the Rajasthan Royals owners Manoj Badale in Mumbai on Tuesday, and we are hoping to have at least a few of the matches in Guwahati next year. This is an exception to the normal practice as most franchises prefer to play their home matches in their respective cities, considering the huge fan base, but since the North East is yet to have a team, we hope to host some of the franchises in the upcoming IPL season,” he added.
On the infrastructural development in the North East, Saikia said that the BCCI has a detailed plan for improving cricket facilities in the region. Besides logistical challenges, he pointed out that the lack of plain surfaces in most states, barring Assam and Tripura, has been a roadblock. He was, however, quick to point out that six new indoor stadiums in the remaining states will be ready by December 2023.
“Except for Assam and Tripura, the other North East states still lack proper cricket facilities. In these six states, the BCCI plans to have indoor stadiums, the tenders for which have already been finalized. By December 2023, all these states will have an indoor stadium with four wickets each,” he said.
“In Assam, we already have proper cricket infrastructure, and we are expanding it to the various districts. In other states, the lack of a flat surface is a major obstacle. In Assam, there are no such issues, barring Haflong, and alternatively, the Assam Cricket Association decided to shift the proposed stadium to Umrangso. Almost 60 per cent of work has been completed there.”Elaborating further, he said that the proposed stadium will be projected as a destination cricket ground. “It will be a green stadium in Umrangso, it bears resemblance to English county grounds. Aesthetically, the stadium in Umrangso will be similar to the one in Himachal Pradesh’s Dharamshala (overlooking the mighty Dhauladhar ranges),” he said before signing off.
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