The Women’s T20 Challenge has finally been announced as part of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League which will be held in the United Arab Emirates this year. The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) were planning to organize the series of women’s T20 exhibition matches originally with four teams this year but the Coronavirus pandemic has put paid to those plans and only three teams will involved this year.
However, the more pressing issue at the moment is who will be selected the Indian women’s cricketers to be part of these three teams as the senior women’s selection committee tenure ended a while back and no replacement panel has been appointed yet.
Former India cricket Shantha Rangaswamy, who is also an BCCI Apex Council member, is confident that the board will appoint a women’s selection committee by next month, well before the women’s T20 Challenge, which will take place in November.
“Let’s get the first thing clear that these games are not women’s IPL by any means but actually exhibition games for the promotion of women’s cricket. IPL Governing Council president Brijesh Patel and BCCI president Sourav Ganguly have done a wonderful job by managing to find a slot for the Women’s T20 Challenge even amid this pandemic,” Shantha Rangaswamy told indiansportsnews.com in an exclusive interview.
“Ganguly is one of India’s finest captains and we have full faith in his decision-making skills. We should have a selection panel in place by next month, well before the Women’s T20 Challenge which are expected to take place in the month of November,” Shantha Rangaswamy said.
Former India wicketkeeper Saba Karim, who was the BCCI General Manager (Cricket Operation) was the point person when it came to Indian women’s cricket but even he has resigned from his post last month.
“The BCCI have already come up with an advertisement to find a replacement for Saba Karim. We will have a BCCI GM soon and he will get back to handling women’s cricket and it’s issues,” she said.
Shantha Rangaswamy, who was also part of Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) which selected the women’s as well as men’s senior head coach, believes that the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed back women’s cricket especially in India by a couple of years.
“The development of women’s cricket in India and the world has been pushed back by a couple of years due to the coronavirus pandemic. I think it will be at least 2022 before Indian women’s cricket can get back on their feet. But we should not be making any predictions in this regard. As soon as BCCI gets back its sponsors in earnest, I am sure they will be start pumping in money into the women’s game as well,” the 66-year-old former India cricketer said.
The women’s T20 Challenge will not see participation of lot of top foreign players this year since its schedule is clashing with the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) which will be held in Australian between October 17 to November 29.
“The BCCI had no option in the matter of the schedule. The purpose of organizing the exhibition clashes during the IPL Playoff week is to give most global coverage to women’s cricket. This can only be achieved by organizing these matches concurrently with the Playoffs.
“If these games were organized during the first week of IPL, they won’t garner the same kind of publicity. Brijesh Patel wanted to have four teams in Women’s T20 Challenge so that they can eventually build up to organizing a Women’s IPL a few years down the line,” Shantha Rangaswamy added.
It remains to be seen how Women’s T20 Challenge pans out in this Coronavirus-pandemic hit year.