WPL will lift India to Australia’s standard: Harris
The inaugural edition of the WPL, the women’s equivalent of the Indian Premier League, will begin in March after the first five franchises were sold earlier this month for a combined sum of around $A811 million.
With broadcasting rights said to be worth $167 million over five years, the competition has the wherewithal to offer the richest contracts in the history of women’s cricket.
“It’s going to push the women’s game even further and really put it on the world stage,” Australian spinner Alana King told AAP.
“This is where the women’s game is and this is what it deserves.”
In total, there are 30 roster spots designated for overseas players from ICC full member countries.
King said she believed every member of Australia’s current T20I squad had nominated for next month’s WPL auction and had put themselves in the running for potentially life-changing paydays.
But as Australia prepares for next month’s T20 World Cup in South Africa, Harris expects Indian cricket to be the biggest winner from the WPL.
India are currently fourth in the ICC rankings for both WT20Is and WODIs.
Australia top both rankings thanks to the professional domestic competitions, the WNCL and WBBL, which feature a range of elite talent for national selectors to choose from.
Before the advent of the WPL, only England had a domestic women’s line-up to rival Australia’s.
“The better local competition you can get, the stronger the international players are,” Harris told AAP.
“(The WPL) will change Indian cricket.
“They will be a much bigger powerhouse than they already are.
“The India women’s team, they will push our boundaries and drive international standards of women’s cricket as well as Australia.”
The Australian women’s team already has a busy calendar, the demands of which led to captain Meg Lanning taking five months of personal leave from August last year.
The WPL comes after another busy period for the Australian team, which traveled to India in December, hosted Pakistan in January and will spend February in South Africa.
Fast bowler Darcie Brown admitted she was initially reluctant to nominate for the WPL auction and risk sacrificing valuable downtime at home.
“We would have to leave the World Cup immediately to go there if we were picked up, and there is so much cricket being played later this year as well,” she told AAP.
“But it would be an opportunity that would be stupid to pass up.”
The range of different men’s franchise competitions has caused Australia’s best players to prioritize certain series or leagues over others.
With another competition on the calendar, and a lucrative one at that, women’s players are going to be forced into similar decisions.
But King said no amount of franchise money could tempt Australian women’s players away from national duties.
“We love representing our country. We wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world,” she said.