In a bid to attract crowds at the opening WPL match in Mumbai on Saturday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India has offered free entry for women and girls on a first-come-first-served basis, while men can purchase tickets for ₹100 and ₹400.
Dhiraj Malhotra, CEO, Delhi Capitals said the women’s cricket graph in India has been on the rise since 2017 and the players are stars in their own right, while the WPL is just the boost the sport needed in India.
The tournament will help find many talented players and give them an opportunity to take on the best players in the biggest of stages, he said.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India has managed to pull another rabbit from the hat by setting the stage for the first-ever Women’s Premier League and mopping up ₹5,621 crore in revenue.
With the five teams were sold for ₹4,670 crore and media rights getting another ₹951 crore, the WPL has already become the second biggest T20 league behind the Indian Premier League even before the first ball has been bowled.
Blast from the past
Initially, about 1,525 players had registered for the WPL auction but only 246 from India and 163 overseas players succeeded.
IPL had 8 teams in the inaugural season, while WPL has five teams -- Delhi Capitals, Gujarat Giants, Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, UP Warriorz.
In the first season of the IPL, teams had to comply with a salary cap of ₹21.5 crore, whereas WPL has a salary cap of ₹12 crore.
The most expensive player in the first IPL was MS Dhoni at ₹6 crore, while it was Smriti Mandhana at ₹3.40 crore in WPL. Among foreign players, 25-year-old Australian all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner and English woman Natalie Sciver were the most expensive purchases at ₹3.2 crores each. The trend of valuing recognition, match-winning batsmen and all-rounders still persists.
Asked whether the franchise will break-even in five years, he said it has to be seen how it is received by the audiences when the tournament gets underway, but the IPL also took almost a decade for break even.
“I can say this that we are here to stay, and that women’s cricket truly is the future of the sport. I would like to believe the tournament will be a hit. We must celebrate the fact the tournament’s here finally, and the players are extremely excited about the opportunity,” he said.