OPINION: There Will Be Losers As Well As Winners From The WPL

UPDATE: This piece was updated on 26/01/2023 in the light of further information about the distribution of TV money in the first 5 years of the competition.

The 5 successful bidders for the Indian WPL franchises have been announced by the BCCI, with teams set to be based in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Lucknow.

Collectively they have bid about half a billion pounds for 10-year franchises – i.e. around £50 million per year. It’s a lot of money, so we have to ask: is it sustainable?

It bears repeating that these are businesses – they aren’t doing this as an act of charity – they need to make that money back; and that might be an issue going forwards.

In the short term, the BCCI have agreed to give 80% of the TV rights income back to the franchises for the first 5 years of the competition; but after that, the franchises are going to be on their own, and will need to recoup their investment from sponsorships and merchandising.

Barclays title sponsorship of England’s (men’s football) Premier League is reckoned to be worth about £40m per year – i.e. 10 million a year less than the WPL franchises collectively need to generate just to break even on their initial investment. (And that’s ignoring operating costs, which will likely be non-trivial.)

So that’s the kind of ball-park the franchises are playing in, in the medium term – and it isn’t going to be easy money to find. The attraction of women’s sport to sponsors right now, mainly rests on the fact that it is “good value” (i.e. cheap) – but this will not be. Whoever takes on these sponsorships is going to need seriously deep pockets – much deeper pockets than we’ve seen in England or Australia for women’s cricket to date.

It’s a huge challenge that the franchises have set themselves up for, and my guess is that while most of them will muddle through, some will struggle financially to break even on their investment and won’t survive.

Women’s cricket used to be a nice cosy world – that’s all changing now, with the promise that the top players will benefit to the tune of (literally) millions.

But if the franchises can’t bridge the gap between what they’ve agreed to pay to the BCCI and what they can persuade the sponsors to pay them, it could all end in tears very quickly. Welcome to the jungle, folks – there will be winners and losers… and the losers will get eaten.

The CRICKETher Weekly – Episode 148

On the CRICKETher Weekly:

  • U19 World Cup – Eng & NZ in pole position!
  • Controversies in Aus & South Africa – DvN dropped & CA’s scheduling clash
  • Pay bonuses in the Men’s Hundred… but not the women’s?
  • Why we need season tickets in regionals


OPINION: An ‘Alternative Universe’ England T20 Team

By Andy Frombolton

Following the announcement of the England T20 squad, my mind turns to a possible counterfactual universe.

Several members of the current England squad enjoyed a considerable run in the team before eventually repaying the selectors’ faith; whilst conversely, more recently, a significant number of players have been picked and subsequently jettisoned without being given a decent run to prove (or disprove) the wisdom of their selection.

As we approach the T20 World Cup, I thought therefore it might be fun to choose a team of uncapped players who – had they been picked several years ago and given similar opportunities – might now be mainstays of the England T20 squad. I mused with a ‘less than 10 caps’ cut-off point as I’d like to have been able to pick both the Smiths (Bryony and Linsey), but the final selection criterion is binary, i.e. a player cannot have played a single match for England to be considered.

In picking the team, I also sought to address some of the weaknesses evident in many national squads, such as the lack of top-order left hand batters and too many weak fielders. 

I’ve also chosen not to be bound by conventional team structures; meaning, for instance, that my team only has 1 opening quick bowler since there wasn’t an obvious second option with good enough stats to justify their inclusion. 

But the team does have an incredible 10 genuine bowling options including 2 leggies (Levick and Armitage), 2 offies (Morris and Adams), plus Kelly’s ambidextrous offerings; ideal considering that the vast majority of batters, even at international level, score far more slowly off slow bowling. The team bats down to 9 with the option to use Gibson and/or Norris as sacrificial opening pinch-hitters, meaning Adams may need to drop herself down the batting order if the innings gets off to a good start.

The XI:

  • Eve Jones
  • Bess Heath (wk)
  • Georgia Adams (capt)
  • Aylish Cranstone
  • Marie Kelly
  • Holly Armitage
  • Dani Gibson
  • Naomi Dattani
  • Fi Morris
  • Tara Norris
  • Katie Levick

“In counterfactual history, nothing is certain” (Robert Dallek).

Did I overlook any obvious candidates (and who then gets left out)? Conversely who should I have left out (and who gets their place instead)? Share your thoughts!