IPL Challenge captains Harmanpreet Kaur, Smrithi Mandhana and Mithali Raj (credit IPLT20.com)

The BCCI will not expand the IPL challenge in 2021. If India wants to compete against Australia and England it's time for a women's IPL.

Australia and England have been the two most dominant teams in women’s T20 cricket and this is accurately reflected in the ICC rankings, with the sides well above third-placed India.

India is the most influential cricketing nation, yet the BCCI has not yet introduced a full women’s IPL tournament.

England has now completed four Kia Super Leagues and is bringing in the Hundred women’s tournament in 2021. Australia has also now completed six editions of the WBBL which is well as established as the premier domestic women’s T20 competition in the world with players from all around the globe coming down under to play in all of the six years.

With England and Australia having such a head start in this space, if India wishes to compete at the top the BCCI will need to bring a women’s IPL into the schedule.

While in recent years, positive change has occurred with the introduction of the women’s IPL challenge, the problem is that four matches between three teams does not allow players to improve and show their skills. The IPL Challenge is seen as more of a gimmick than a legitimate tournament.

On Women Criczone’s post-match show, journalist Boria Majumdar revealed the BCCI’s plans for a women’s tournament for 2021.

After much speculation that another team and more matches would be added to the IPL challenge, Majumdar announced the IPL challenge would be the same three-team four-match event in 2021. Fans were extremely disappointed by this news, as well as the players who are now missing out.

Majumdar cited the BCCI being worried about a lack of depth after the loss to South Africa as a reason. The BCCI is worried that there would not be enough quality women cricketers in India to fill four teams.

The BCCI needs to realise that pre-2008, the Indian men’s team did not have the depth it does today. The depth has come from the discovery of talent and scouting opportunities that the IPL has afforded men’s cricket.

If depth is the perceived problem, a women’s IPL is the answer. The IPL increased the talent scouting in India and expanded selection from just the big cities to all of India.

Today, men playing any kind of cricket, whether gully cricket or lower-level domestic, know talent scouts are watching. If India’s women are given this same opportunity, the squad’s depth will increase dramatically.

For the BCCI to grow the women’s game, they must look towards Australia and England. By investing in a world-class tournament, England and Australia are at a point where professional contracts are now the norm.

The success of the WBBL now allows for eight teams of paid players. Those who also play in the WNCL have a minimum retainer of 36 thousand dollars. Due to investment in the Kia Super League and the Hundred, the ECB has 41 players with year-round professional contracts.

English International Alex Hartley reacts to the IPL challenge news

In Australia, Ellyse Perry and Alyssa Healy are just as recognizable as the men’s cricketers but this is not the case in India. Mithali Raj is a superstar of the game yet is nowhere near as recognizable in India as the men’s stars. This is a problem with the BCCI’s approach to women’s cricket. The BCCI does not market its women cricketers and the lack of a women’s IPL is the largest problem.

In the 13 years since its inception, the IPL has revolutionised the game forever. Stars have been created from areas that previously never saw international cricket.

The BCCI’s willingness to let the women’s team slide away from the top shows disinterest in the women’s game. A women’s IPL is the best way for India to further grow the women’s game and compete with powerhouses Australia and England at the 2022 world cup.

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