Buoyed by the success of the inaugural Women’s Premier League, IPL chairman Arun Dhumal on Tuesday said that they plan to introduce the home and away format from season two but the number of teams will remain five for the next three years.
The first ever WPL turned out to be a hit among fans and players but as the tournament was staged within tough timelines and right after the Women’s T20 World Cup, the BCCI decided to organise all the games across two venues in Mumbai.
Terming hosting of WPL the biggest challenge of his tenure, Dhumal said having home and away games immensely help teams in building a fan base and the board wants to take that route as early as next season.
“Well begun is half done. It has been a great beginning for WPL and going forward it is going to be much better than what we have seen so far. We have started with five teams but going forward there is scope for additional team given the pool of the players that is going to come in the years to follow.
“We are hoping increase in the number of teams but for the coming three seasons will remain five. We are surely looking at home and away format, we will see which time slot is available considering India’s international commitment and take a call.
“From a fan engagement point of view it is very important that we go for home and away format,” Dhumal told PTI.
Fans turned up in sizeable numbers to watch the games at Brabourne and DY Patil Stadium. The event had garnered massive attention even before the first ball was bowled with the teams rights fetching BCCI close to Rs 4700 crore and media rights Rs 951 crore.
“It has been a phenomenal ride so far and quite a challenging one given the time slot we had to start the WPL. We are satisfied with the way things have progressed, we did not have much of window as the World Cup was there and the girls had just about a week to comeback and start.
“Everything (media rights, team rights, player auction) happened one after the other but the way tournament was received, it was phenomenal,” Dhumal said.
One reason for not introducing a sixth team right away could be the lack of quality local talent. The world’s best displayed their exemplary skills in the competition but leaving aside Saika Ishaque, Kanika Ahuja and Shreyanka Patil, not many uncapped Indian players were able to turn heads on.
“Our national team has done very well over the last couple of years. U-19 girls won the World Cup. Given how the WPL was received, we are very hopeful that we will have a bigger pool of players and their fitness and fielding standard will improve immensely going forward.”
Three out of five teams are owned by legacy IPL franchisees, who have seen the value of the men’s league reach astronomical proportions.
When can the WPL franchisees break even?
“As far breaking even is concerned, those who have invested their money, they have plans in place. Our plan is to generate money and plough it back into the game and get a bigger and better pool of players for India.”
Dhumal said it was also important to give players from associate nations an opportunity in the WPL. USA’s Tara Norris played in the inaugural edition.
Teams can pick as many five overseas players in the playing eleven but the fifth one will have to be from an associate nation.
“This is a global event. It is not India centric. We have given one slot to associate countries which will help the game grow globally. And their players did well too.”
IPL: TV remains relevant but be more takers for digital medium
The two-month long IPL began last week following a record media rights deal that fetched the board a staggering Rs 48,390 crore. The board sold TV and digital rights separately for the first time and that proved to be a masterstroke.
TV rights holder Star and digital rights owner Viacom are jostling to give an improved viewing experience to the fans.
“The game has to innovate for everyone. Everything about the game has to revolve around the fans. The idea was to make it more enriching for the fans. We had a different set of auctions (for media rights), we have two amazing partners.
“A lot of market needs to be captured as far as the global audience is concerned. We will reach out to the fans globally,” said Dhumal.
Considering the digital revolution taking place in India and around the world, will TV remain relevant?
“Digital is changing the landscape so there will be more takers for digital but given the depth and reach of the television it still has a great market in India,” he added.
Introduction of Impact player
Dhumal added that the introduction of Impact player in the IPL and teams being picked after toss was done to mitigate the toss advantage.
“We have seen dew play a major role. Winning the toss is seen as an advantage and to mitigate that we thought to introduce ‘Impact Player’ and give the teams chance to pick teams post toss so they can pick the right eleven,” he added.