BCCI president Sourav Ganguly confirmed on Sunday that the Women's T20 Challenge will be held in the UAE on the sidelines of the IPL in November. However, with the WBBL scheduled from October 17 to November 29, several players from Australia, including Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes, reacted to the announcement sharply, while Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, among other Indian players, welcomed it. Here's how the debate unfolded on Twitter:
Healy, Player of the Final as Australia won the T20 World Cup earlier this year, kicked things off, saying that hosting the T20 Challenge while the WBBL would be on may not be a good idea after all.
So during the WBBL.... cool https://t.co/w5aNhN9FTw— Alyssa Healy (@ahealy77) August 2, 2020
Haynes, the vice-captain of the Australia side, said that the women's game needed its best talents on the field, and not competing in different parts of the world.
Agree. If true, it's a shame... while the game continues to grow, premier domestic competitions do not need to compete against each other. They can be used to showcase the game and support its development around the world.— Rachael Haynes (@RachaelHaynes) August 2, 2020
The T20 Challenge would not have clashed with the WBBL if it had taken place when it was scheduled to, on the sidelines of the IPL in April-May. Now, with the IPL moving to September-November, things have changed.
From the point of view of the premier Indian women cricketers, there was also the opportunity to get some match time if the white-ball tour of England hadn't been cancelled. That was due in July-August, but after it was postponed, the ECB had suggested playing a tri-series also involving South Africa in September. The BCCI, however, opted out.
India ODI captain, Raj, meanwhile welcomed the news as a start to preparations for the ODI World Cup, the planning for which, the ICC has said, continues even as further assessments are made by NZC.
This is excellent news . Our ODI World Cup campaign to finally kick start . A big thank you to @SGanguly99 @BCCI @JayShah and thank you @BoriaMajumdar for your support to women's cricket . https://t.co/JpJSMGapzV— Mithali Raj (@M_Raj03) August 2, 2020
Goswami, who, like Raj, represents India only in ODIs, expressed her eagerness to get back to playing, as did Poonam Yadav. Aside from the T20 Challenge, BCCI's cricket operations team is working out a schedule where India Women are likely to have two full-fledged white-ball series against South Africa and West Indies before playing the ODI World Cup in New Zealand next year, according to PTI.
Glad to know that @BCCI & Dada have taken such important decisions for the development & upliftment of women's cricket. Can't wait to get back on the field. @SGanguly99 @BCCIWomen @mandhana_smriti @ImHarmanpreet @M_Raj03 @IPL— Jhulan Goswami (@JhulanG10) August 2, 2020
Special thanks to @BoriaMajumdar da from my side. https://t.co/a3DjEZrzZt
As reported by ESPNcricinfo last week, at least three top-drawer India players were WBBL-bound, pending no-objection certificates from the BCCI. Healy wondered about overseas players' participation in both tournaments now that there's a clear clash in the scheduling.
So the Indian players who've already signed wbbl contracts will do what? And all the international marquee players that will be in aus for wbbl? Good luck with it.....— Alyssa Healy (@ahealy77) August 2, 2020
New Zealand veteran Suzie Bates also joined in the debate. Bates, along with her compatriots Sophie Devine and Lea Tahuhu, have been a part of both editions of the T20 Challenge so far. Devine and Bates were also part of runners-up Adelaide Strikers at the WBBL last season, and the former is set to sign up with the Perth Scorchers this year.
What a huge shame for both the WBBL and WIPL competitions there is a clash.— Suzie Bates (@SuzieWBates) August 2, 2020
And then there's a third domestic tournament: the Hundred. Although Covid-19 has pushed back the inaugural edition of the English 100-ball competition - both men's and women's - to 2021, Charlotte Edwards stressed that the health of the women's game depended on all three domestic tournaments co-existing.
Needs to be a window for Women's IPL, WBBL and The Hundred. All play a massive part in raising the standards and growing the game. https://t.co/biiShKjfRw— Charlotte Edwards (@C_Edwards23) August 2, 2020
Jess Jonassen, the Australia allrounder who was recently named two-time defending champions Brisbane Heat's captain, also weighed in.
I have no words for this..— Jessica Jonassen (@JJonassen21) August 2, 2020
A last-minute stalemate between the BCCI and Cricket Australia in the lead-up to the T20 Challenge last year had led to the Australians missing out on the Indian tournament. The Indian players, meanwhile, could not participate in the WBBL last season as they focussed on preparing for the T20 World Cup instead, with assignments against South Africa and West Indies. The last thing players from both countries would want is another standoff between the two boards.
Our tournament is set and prepared. There won't be any understanding. Fairly sure players will abide by their contractual agreements in Aus. Especially considering it'll be leading into finals.— Alyssa Healy (@ahealy77) August 2, 2020