Print & Features Editor Sophie Utteridge reports on the new WPL that will be kicking off alongside the IPL later this year

Written by Sophie Utteridge
MSc Marketing Student
Images by Twitter/WPLt20

After years of waiting, the inaugural season of the Women’s Indian Premier League (WPL) has finally hit our screens and has been a game changer for the female players around the world.

The Men’s Indian Premier League (IPL) has always been the highest regarded T20 tournament in the world, showcasing the globe’s best cricketers in a feisty and aggressive tournament. It was the IPL that really capitalised on the T20 game and attracted the stars of the cricket world to India almost instantly. Whilst the IPL has often been the source of tension for many national teams, especially when players make themselves unavailable for selection in order to play the tournament, it cannot be denied that the IPL was the contest that put cricket on the map. Money, fame, and glory is what India promises – and they have certainly delivered on that. 

But for the women’s game, the IPL has long avoided implementing a women’s tournament. Other nations around the globe have been running their own T20 tournaments for many years now, with Australia’s Women’s Big Bash holding the crown for the most competitive tournament. England’s The Hundred has also launched women’s cricket in England to new heights, especially with the materialisation of joint franchises between the men and the women. However, it remains to be said that although both of these tournaments have provided plenty of opportunities for female cricketers, they remain the only two contests worth playing in for many of the world’s best female cricketers. When the men have the choice of playing anywhere from the West Indies to Australia (and be paid handsomely for it), it puts a bitter taste in the mouths of female cricketers who want to, and should be able to, do the same. 

The IPL has long avoided implementing a women’s tournament

Sophie Eccelstone, one of England’s finest spinners and currently No.1 T20 and ODI bowler in the world, has expressed her excitement to play in the WPL. “I think it’s really exciting,” she said in an interview with Sky Sports. “I’m really looking forward to getting going with the UP Warriorz.” She maintained that England would still be her priority despite the hefty paycheck she will receive from UP Warriorz, voicing her dreams of winning a major trophy with England. 

Regardless of the slightly delayed arrival of the contest, the WPL so far has not disappointed. A multi-million dollar auction plus a twenty-two match tournament has already proven that the WPL should be taken very seriously. The contest will follow a similar format to the WBBL where each team will play each other twice where the first place team will then proceed directly to the final, leaving second and third place to battle it out for the second space. Although there may not be as many teams currently, the organisers have planned for two extra teams to join the contest in 2026, allowing the WPL time to settle and grow. 

Personally, considering the success of the IPL, I do not see how the WPL could fail. For me, it will become an integral part of the franchise calendar and attract the world’s stars incredibly easily. The first season has already seen a huge US$572m investment across five teams with much more to come. The hunger for this tournament has been around for years, my only hope is that it proves to be as lucrative and exciting as it has promised to be. 

Catch the WPL on Sky Sports cricket this March!

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