World Cup on in South Africa, but all eyes on WPL auction in Mumbai

Even as the Women’s T20 World Cup is underway in South Africa, all eyes are firmly on Mumbai. And why not? In every which way you look at it, Monday will be a landmark day for women’s cricket — not just India — as the stage is set for the inaugural player auctions for the Women’s Premier League launched by the BCCI. A total of 409 players (246 Indian and 163 overseas) are set to go under the hammer with many expected to become millionaires by the end of the day, which will make them one of the highest paid athletes in women’s

Former India captain Diana Edulji calls it historic, and rightly so as the tournament is going to place the women cricketers among the top earners bracket across all sports in the coming years. “History is going to be created on Monday, when the women cricketers will be going under the hammer for the first time, no women’s league has auctioned worldwide barring WPL,” Edulji told the Indian Express.

There is a reason why Edulji is sounding elated about what is in store. With most of the top players having a base price of Rs 50 lakh, they are bound to fetch big money at the auction, which could make them easily one of the highest paid across the world even ahead of the Women’s Super League (Women’s EPL). According to reports, the average salary of WSL footballers is Rs 46,78,974.49, which is not even the base price for the likes of Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana to name a few. To put things in cricket context, the highest pay in the Hundred and Women’s Big Bash League is Rs 30,86, 132.11. Which is why not just players from India, but from around the world are eagerly waiting to see how much they will fetch on Monday.

Even as the T20 World Cup is underway, and the auction is bound to be a distraction of sorts, it is something the cricket world can’t neglect as the stakes are high. The five franchises has already fetched the BCCI Rs 4,669.99 crore and the final piece in the makeup of the team is the player auction ahead of the tournament which will be played from March 4 to 26 at Brabourne Stadium and DY Patil Stadium in Mumbai.

“The historic and first-ever auction of the inaugural season of the Women’s Premier League will undoubtedly usher in another glorious chapter for women’s cricket not just in India, but all over the world.The auction, as I see, is more about building the foundation – of teams and the tournament for the years to come. We will be celebrating not just the current talent that will participate in this inaugural WPL, but also this unique tournament which we hope will give wings to the aspirations of a million young “women”, giving them a ‘home’ to be part of and sharpen their skills,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah told The Indian Express.

While a total of 1525 players had registered for the WPL player auctions, the BCCI shortlisted 409 players. And unlike the Indian Premier League, where each franchise has a salary purse of Rs 95 crore, the WPL teams have only Rs 12 crore to spend on. “A bigger purse would have been ideal. A team can have a minimum 15 players per team so the franchise won’t go all out on one player like they do in men’s IPL. Here there is a very limited purse and franchisees will be cautious on whom they will go all out. They will have to keep in mind money left behind too,” Edulji explained.

Each team should have a minimum 15 of players, with maximum being 18. Each team will try to fit in at least five foreign players. As per BCCI press release, a maximum of 90 slots are available with the five teams, with 30 being slotted for overseas players. India captain Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Deepti Sharma, Shafali Verma, foreigners Ellyse Perry, Sophie Ecclestone, Sophie Devine and Deandra Dottin have all put their names at a base price of Rs 50 lakh.

Australian batters will be in great demand especially batters Alyssa Healy and Beth Mooney, who are among top two T20 ranked players in women’s cricket along with all-rounder Ashleigh Gardner, who is best all-rounder in the world. Similarly, England players will also be in demand, just like the IPL.

Members of India under 19 women’s team which bagged maiden colts World Cup in South Africa, will be keeping their fingers crossed. Delhi’s Shweta Sehrawat, who scored 297 runs in recently concluded ICC Women’s under 19 World Cup, will be center of attraction. The batter had scored with a strike rate of 139.43 and was the highest run getter in the tournament. While another U-19 player Parshavi Chopra, who had an economy rate of 3.66 in colts World Cup, will also be in the radar.

The five WPL franchisees are Gujarat Giants (Adani Group), Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Delhi Capitals, UP Warriorz.

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