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ICC is considering paving the path of women’s cricket differently for the Indian market. A big change is about to come. 2024 would not be the same as it is now. The media rights is learned to be segregated for the new cycle of events then, for the first time of course.
Women’s cricket has one great advantage in India compared to other countries. Cricket is the most viewed sport in the country and data from Ormax Media reveals about 12.4 crore populations are cricket fans and it represents 91 percent of all the sports fans.
Women’s cricket is being viewed as an untapped gold mine in India, a country where cricket is played in every nook and corner. Brands are considering the segment as an investable entity. The Women’s T20 Challenge fetched a decent viewership lately and based on this it is being predicted the female version of cricket will prove commercial worth in the near future.
Moreover, a wider acceptance by the Indian masses has been witnessed due to improved performances of the team in the past couple of World Cups. Bollywood has stepped into making biopics on Mithali Raj, the legendary cricketer, and this is being considered a significant milestone.
TV show producers like Kapil Sharma have been lately inviting young women cricketers to their shows including The Kapil Sharma Show.
ICC announced to sell the rights for women’s and men’s events individually and it includes the digital rights too, starting with India to grab the best possible business contract. Earlier, the worldwide rights were sold on a consolidated basis for both segments. It is hoped more bids can be attracted with the new proposal.
Six bundles will be made available in India and these include digital-only, TV-only and a mix of both. Bidders are to compete in sixteen men’s events and six women’s events, spanning eight and four years respectively. The total number of matches would be 362 in the men’s category and 103 in the women’s category. The Under-19 World Cups are also to be included and with this the number of matches would increase further.
The sixteen men’s matches include two World Cups of fifty overs each, four finals of the World Test Championship, two Champions Trophies, four T20 World Cups and four World Cups of Under-19 players. The women’s segment breakup is one T20 Champions Trophy, one World Cup match of fifty overs, two T20 World Cups of Under-19 players and two T20 World Cups.
ICC is looking for a vision for women’s cricket from the bidders. They need to mention how they may use their platforms in the promotion of women’s games. The rights may not be granted to the highest bidder, but to those who seem to be the best in overall criteria. This means money is not the sole criterion to win the bid.
Press release of ICC reveals the potential bidders need to submit a bid for the four years period in the men’s events. They may even opt to bid for eight years.
It is yet to be witnessed how the new policy bidding policy of ICC could shape up women’s cricket further.
The Indian Women’s Cricket Team
Women in Blue define the Indian women’s cricket team that is governed by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the richest cricket federation in the world. It is true the initial years of women’s cricket were in obscurity and neglect in India while men’s cricket reaped fame and riches. The players had poor access to facilities and faced a domestic structure crisis. They used to graduate from the pitch mats and reached international grounds straight.
The women cricketers battled against the system while the men cricketers were better-trained and better-funded. BCCI brought women’s cricket under its umbrella in 2005, too late of course to mention here. However, the segment could not grab significant attention until 2016 and thereafter the players were granted central contracts. A year later, the Indian women’s cricket team paved to another World Cup final. India lost by 9 runs against England at the Lord’s, but the televised match won the hearts of Indian cricket fans.
Legendary Mithali Raj led the team and she is considered the female that changed Indian cricket forever. She has lately announced retirement from all forms of international cricket. In her career of 23 years, she represented the country 333 times and scored 10,868 runs across all formats. She led the team twice to the World Cup finals.
Nicknamed Lady Tendulkar, Mithali Raj is the all-time leading scorer for India in women’s cricket. She is the fifth in the world to score more than 1,000 World Cup runs. She has played the most consecutive ODIs for a team. She has been awarded the Arjuna Award, Padma Shri, Khel Ratna Award and a couple more.
Women’s Cricket History
In 1745, a report published in The Reading Mercury revealed that for the first time a cricket match between maids of Bramley and Hambledon was played. White Heather Club is learned to be the first women’s cricket club and it was established in 1887 in Yorkshire. A couple of years later, a women’s cricket team named Original English Lady Cricketers toured across England and made substantial profits. Australia set up a women’s cricket league in 1894. Port Elizabeth in South Africa had a women’s team named Pioneers Cricket Club in the same period.
The International Women’s Cricket Council (IWCC) was established in 1958 after taking over the English Women’s Cricket Association. Decades later, in 2005, it was merged with the ICC and formed a unified body in the management and development of cricket.
International Women’s test match was first played in December 1934 between England and Australia. New Zealand joined in 1935. The Netherlands became the 10th women’s cricket test nation in 2007. Women’s ODI was inaugurated in 1973. Women’s T20 International was introduced in 2004. Commonwealth Games Federation announced to include women’s cricket in the 2022 Commonwealth Games.