Women’s Premier League swings into action, with some South African flavour

Women’s Premier League swings into action, with some South African flavour
Smriti Mandhana of India plays a shot during the T20 International series between India and Australia at Dr DY Patil Cricket Stadium on 11 December, 2022 in Mumbai, India. (Photo: Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

The Women’s Premier League T20 tournament, curated by the Indian cricket board, commences on 4 March. The best cricketers in the women’s game are itching to kick-start proceedings.

It’s been labelled as a game changer for the continuous progression of women’s cricket — the tournament that may propel the game to new heights — akin to the famous ramp shot that the brave will try at the tournament.

It is the inaugural Women’s Premier League (WPL). The T20 showpiece is curated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), with the five teams part of the competition boasting the crème-de-la-crème of women’s cricket. It will take place from 4 to 26 March.  

For many of the cricketers involved, the money spent by the five teams to acquire their services (which will go directly to the players) is the highest they have received since choosing the game of cricket out of love and passion, rather than the potential of financial reward.

However, with the strides that have been made over the last two decades, the women’s equivalent of the Indian Premier League (IPL) promises to be a disruptor — as well as setting a new financial standard for the women’s game. Even though Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League and England’s Hundred have led the way.

The most expensive player in WPL from the lot heading into the tournament is India star opener Smriti Mandhana. She went for just over R7-million during the auction in mid-February — bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Smriti Mandhana, Women’s Premier League

Smriti Mandhana of India during the Women’s Tri-Series, 3rd T20I match between India and West Indies at Buffalo Park on 23 January, 2023 in East London, South Africa. (Photo: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images)

Of the 400-plus players who went under the hammer (17 of whom were South African), England’s Nat Sciver-Brunt and Australia’s Ashleigh Gardner were joint second on the bidding list. The two all-rounders will each receive just under R7-million for the work they will do for the Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Giants over the next three weeks.

Claiming their own huge financial reward, as well as being granted the chance to show just how brilliant they are on the oval-shaped field, are 2023 T20 World Cup silver medallists and three representatives of the Proteas women side that recently lost to Australia.

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Marizanne Kapp, her good friend (who also happens to be the all-time leading wicket-taker for the Proteas in T20s) Shabnim Ismail, and the senior side’s vice-captain Chloé Tryon will all be in the city of Mumbai, where the whole tournament will take place.

Marizanne Kapp

Marizanne Kapp of South Africa during the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final match against Australia at Newlands Cricket Ground on 26 February, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Former South African skipper Dané van Niekerk, who missed the T20 World Cup due to failing a fitness test, is also in India for the historic tournament.

In an extensive list of South African absentees, perhaps the most surprising is the top run scorer of the recently concluded World Cup — Laura Wolvaardt. The opener accrued a total of 230 runs from six matches played.

However, the fact that she had only scored 31 runs by the time the auction happened might have influenced the five bidding teams to overlook her. She has been known to take her time before kicking in with the runs as opener — something she admitted on the eve of the tournament. 

“It’s a strike rate thing. Which I can improve on. So, I know what I need to work on in future if I want to get picked for such leagues. I’ll keep scoring some runs and working hard,” Wolvaardt told SABC Sport.

Laura Wolvaardt, Women’s Premier League

Laura Wolvaardt of South Africa plays a shot during the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup semi-final match against England at Newlands Stadium on 4 February, 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

The 23-year-old’s drive to score runs will undoubtedly be missed at the Marquee tournament.

Also absent are her national teammates Suné Luus, Tazmin Brits, Ayabonga Khaka, Nonkululeko Mlaba and Nadine de Klerk. Nevertheless, it promises to be an exceptional showpiece.

In the men’s edition, the Mumbai Indians are the most successful, with five IPL titles to their name. The women’s team hopes to emulate them.

“It is a great achievement. I’m really looking forward to being a part of this team. I have seen Rohit (Sharma) doing so well for this team for so many years. I’ve got this opportunity to be a part of Mumbai Indians and I will give my 100%. The women’s team will do well, like the men’s team,” said India women and Mumbai Indians skipper Harmanpreet Kaur.

“The most important thing is to just go out there and enjoy. This is a great moment for all women cricketers.” DM

Delhi Capitals full squad: Jemimah Rodrigues, Meg Lanning, Shafali Verma, Radha Yadav, Shikha Pandey, Marizanne Kapp, Titas Sadhu, Alice Capsey, Tara Norris, Laura Harris, Jasia Akhter, Minnu Mani, Taniya Bhatia, Poonam Yadav, Jess Jonassen, Sneha Deepthi, Arundhati Reddy, Aparna Mandal

Mumbai Indians full squad: Harmanpreet Kaur, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Amelia Kerr, Pooja Vastrakar, Yastika Bhatia, Heather Graham, Isabelle Wong, Amanjot Kaur, Dhara Gujjar, Saika Ishaque, Hayley Mathews, Chloe Tryon, Humairaa Kaazi, Priyanka Bala, Sonam Yadav, Jintimani Kalita, Neelam Bisht

Royal Challengers Bangalore full squad: Smriti Mandhana, Sophie Devine, Ellyse Perry, Renuka Singh Thakur, Richa Ghosh, Erin Burns, Disha Kasat, Indrani Roy, Shreyanka Patil, Kanika Ahuja, Asha Shobana, Heather Knight, Dané van Niekerk, Preeti Bose, Poonam Khemnar, Komal Zanzad, Meghan Schutt, Sahana Pawar

UP Warriorz full squad: Sophie Ecclestone, Deepti Sharma, Tahlia McGrath, Shabnim Ismail, Alyssa Healy, Anjali Sarvani, Rajeshwari Gayakwad, Parshavi Chopra, Shweta Sehrawat, S Yashasri, Kiran Navgire, Grace Harris, Devika Vaidya, Lauren Bell, Laxmi Yadav, Simran Shaikh

Gujarat Giants full squad: Ashleigh Gardner, Beth Mooney, Sophie Dunkley, Anna Sutherland, Harleen Deol, Deandra Dottin, Sneh Rana, Sabbhineni Meghana, Georgia Wareham, Mansi Joshi, D Hemalatha, Monica Patel, Tanuja Kanwer, Sushma Verma, Hurley Gala, Ashwani Kumari, Parunika Sisodia, Shabnam Shakil


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