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What’s Your Problem, Man!

Hayley Matthews (West Indies); one of the Exclusive Club delighted viewers world-wide with bat and ball.

Men have a real problem dealing with competition from women. And this same underlying fear is reflected in the sporting industry.

The good news is that the diehard “manus-rule-us” class in our global society is not getting support from big investors. The capitalists don’t see “women” but “dollars.”

The Women’s Premier League (WPL), India’s domestic, franchise-based, 20-over cricket tournament, saw the linear and digital rights bought by Viacom 18 for just over €108 million ($116.7 million) for the first five seasons. This instantly made the WPL the second-most expensive sports league in the world after the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) in the United States, and the second biggest T20 domestic league across the world after the men’s edition of the tournament, the Indian Premier League (IPL). With broadcast rights reportedly worth $167m over five years, the competition has the wherewithal to offer the richest contracts in the history of women’s cricket.

Bravo! India is the leader in international cricket! The developers believe that the WPL will develop domestic women cricket – and they are putting their money where their hearts are!

However, given that the IPL was formed in 2008, the arrival of the women’s equivalent 15 years later is a reminder of how hard women’s cricket has had to work against claims that the product is just not “good enough.”

Unfortunately, some influential male professionals (in other sports) have on occasion called for lower compensation for female professionals – their argument is that the skill-set of the “princesses and queens” are not attractive.

I like the way the Forbes analysist puts it – “The gender pay-gap spans almost every industry, and sport is no different. But between sporting disciplines, there are vast discrepancies in pay for men and women, ranging from tennis, where pay is comparable, to basketball. Where players are in entirely different rip codes.”

Isn’t this a reflection of the gender-bias that informs how we treat our females in business and pleasure? In some countries and regions women are still treated as chattels, liabilities and domesticated “lesser beings.” In the west, the struggle continues for equal treatment on the job and in the marketplace.

WPL 2023 marks the commercialization of women’s Cricket just as World Series Cricket did for men’s cricket in 1976. The “Packer Revolution” began when the cricket-loving businessman wanted to show the sport on his commercial television station Channel Nine. In 1976, he tabled a $1.5 million, three-year offer to the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) for the exclusive TV rights of cricket in Australia. Kerry Packer changed the game of cricket for men with the World Series.

Well, WPL brought together thirty (30) of top overseas women cricketers with the best women cricketers from India, to showcase their batting, bowling, fielding skills and cricketing intelligence before the global audience for the period 04-26 March 2023.  

The exclusive club included Meg Lanning, Tahlia McGrath, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Nat Sciver-Brunt, Hayley Matthews, Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy and Harmanpreet Kaur. And they were no less skillful, entertaining, devastating, destructive and classy than any of the men cricketers. I saw them in action, and I have seen many great batsmen in my time.

The level of performance in the WPL was no less competitive than the IPL. There were 20 total scores of 150 or more and 4 total scores of 200 or more. Meg Lanning won the orange cap for being the highest run-scorer of the tournament; Hayley Matthews won the purple cap for being the highest wicket-taker of the tournament; and Natalie Sciver-Brunt was the MVP of the season.

But space does allow us to recall the outstanding fielding and catches; the display of “batswoman-ship” and the showcase of bowling-skill on display in India between March 04 and 26, 2023.

Cricket will never be the same again after the inaugural WPL. And those of us who were privileged to see the display will never be the same again!

So, what’s is your problem, Man!

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