A pat on the back but women’s T20 scheduling could’ve been better

James Jose/Dubai
Filed on November 9, 2020
Mithali Raj, captain of Velocity, said her teammates found it difficult to prepare themselves for the afternoon game after playing the previous night.

Velocity were the only team who did not have a rest day between games, unlike the other two.

The Board of Control for Cricket India (BCCI) deserve a pat on the back and they can pat themselves too, while they are it, for successfully shifting the Indian Premier League (IPL), in its entirety, to these shores.

And credit is also due to the UAE, for putting on a great show in a safe and secure environment.

It has been nothing short of remarkable that the BCCI has managed to hold the tournament, the world’s most popular T20 franchise league, in these unprecedented times.

If anything, it has brought some sort of joy and diversion for the fans, who have been grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, on a daily basis.

It has also gone on to show the rest of the world that an event such as this can be staged with the same benchmarks and lofty standards that it is known for.

It is a shame that spectators couldn’t take in the action from close quarters, but safety is of the top most priority and it is a non-negotiable.

And while they were at it, the BCCI has also managed to stage the Women’s T20 Challenge in Sharjah, a precursor to what could later become a full-fledged women’s IPL.

The Women’s T20 Challenge, which is into its third edition, is being held concurrently during the IPL playoffs and for the BCCI to pull this off too, is remarkable.

It requires foresight and careful planning to stage two tournaments simultaneously and in a different country, and with bio-bubbles in place. And they have done that admirably well.

The scheduling of the IPL has been near perfect with the fixtures worked out well, with a fair sprinkling of the double-headers which were slotted in on Saturdays and Sundays, to cater to the massive audience back home in India.

And the ending too, which normally would’ve been on a Sunday, has been shifted to a weekday — Tuesday — to coincide with Diwali, the Indian festival of lights.

As far as the Women’s T20 Challenge is concerned, after the initial two teams in the inaugural season in 2018 in Mumbai and three franchises last year in Jaipur, this season was supposed to be a four-team affair.

But the BCCI had to put those plans on hold because of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. It traditionally has been held during the IPL play-off week over the past two seasons, but this season saw the light of day only in October.

With the event slotted for November, it clashed with the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia, which began on October 25. That has meant that it has been shorn of some of the international stars from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

But then, the Women’s T20 Challenge has still managed to bring together 12 overseas players from England, the West Indies, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, as well as Thailand.

The only place they may have perhaps erred is the scheduling. Velocity, who won the opening fixture against defending and two-time champions Supernovas, had a short turnaround time as they played on back-to-back days.

After finishing up on Wednesday night, Velocity were back in Sharjah on Thursday afternoon to face the Trailblazers. The lack of rest clearly showed as they were bamboozled by England’s Sophie Ecclestone.

"As far as playing in the afternoon, we haven't even got 12 hours to recover from yesterday's (Wednesday) game. So, clearly yes, it has been difficult for the girls to prepare themselves and come back and play the afternoon game after playing last night," Mithali Raj, the Velocity captain said.

The IPL’s Qualifier 1 between Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals was pencilled in for the evening, so the women’s fixture had to be a day affair.

Having said that, we need to cut them slack considering the situation and it is understandable that such glitches can happen as they had only a month to get it going.

Hopefully, they can get the scheduling right and space out the fixtures when the next season comes around. Who knows, perhaps an even bigger and better Women’s T20 Challenge.

Fingers crossed.

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