New Delhi, Dec 8 (IANS): December 2023 is turning out to be a busy month for women’s cricketers in India. The Harmanpreet Kaur-led side has kickstarted its hectic home season and hours before it plays the second T20I against England at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday, the player auction for the second season of Women’s Premier League (WPL) will be conducted in Mumbai.
The inaugural season of the WPL was played only in Mumbai, and ahead of its second edition, India’s middle-order batter Veda Krishnamurthy believes the five-team tournament has created a platform for players to make a better transition from domestic cricket to the international level.
“It is immense because you kind of learn a lot and we have always spoken about the saying that WPL can be that transition for young cricketers from domestic to international level and that they will be ready and prepared when playing for India.”
“WPL has now created a platform for that transition and playing alongside international stars will just give them more confidence. WPL is a learning opportunity for the young players to learn a lot more.”
“Having your own franchise leagues brings a lot of exposure, which is something all of them have enjoyed in WPL this year. To be able to go in and perform, to have the crowd coming in and cheer for you, all of this is benefitting the players while playing the WPL,” said Veda in an exclusive interview with IANS.
Veda had entered the inaugural WPL auction earlier this year but didn’t find any takers. The right-handed batter, who last played for India in the 2022 Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia, has thrown in her hat again for Saturday’s auction at a base price of INR 30 lakh, with a hope to be picked by any of the five teams and desire to translate her hard work on and off the field into stellar on-field performances.
“I am pretty excited to be part of the auction. My current state of mind (ahead of the auction) is, that I am a little bit anxious because when things didn’t happen in the way I wanted last year, you kind of get affected a little bit, rather a lot more. So this time around, I am anxious, but at the same time, I am excited and waiting to see which way the auction will go.”
“I had a pretty decent outing in the state games (Senior Women’s T20 Trophy); there’s a lot of processes and work put into it. In the last four-five months, I have been working really hard, putting in a lot of effort and a lot of hours when it comes to batting and doing specific things in training so that I can be stronger, leaner and fitter.”
“I have lost a lot of weight as well, something which is very important as fitness and fielding are in focus -– that is something I have kept in mind. It is all about processes and I have been doing it right. Just waiting for an opportunity to go out there and do well for the team.”
Veda knows a thing or two about how playing in franchise T20 leagues accelerates the learning process of women cricketers in various ways. Back in 2017, she had signed up to play 10 games for the Hobart Hurricanes in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL).
Though she had an underwhelming time -– making 144 runs at an average of 18 and a wicket from part-time leg-spin bowling, Veda felt playing the WBBL did a whole lot good for her. “Playing the Big Bash opened up a lot of things for me. It helped me in understanding how things outside of India work, especially in a country like Australia, where they are so successful throughout.”
“It makes you more vocal and expresses a lot more, which I think here also we have started. Playing in Australia has made me a better player and that experience rubbed on me in a positive way as you want to be aware via more experiences, conditions and situations.”
Post the inaugural edition of the WPL, various state units, including Karnataka, are now organising their women’s T20 leagues.
Veda believes constant exposure to playing games as part of WPL and state T20 leagues will only help the young women cricketers in many ways.
“As and when you play leagues and matches, at whatever level it is, it adds to a lot of strength to your game, gaining a lot of experiences and exposure, being in certain situations -– you kind of know what needs to be done and this is what these state leagues will do.”
“It just gives in a lot of confidence and opportunities for the younger players, who are wanting to play for the senior state and make a mark. Also, it gives them the opportunity to take up the sport professionally.”
The year 2023 has seen young cricketers from Karnataka earn places in India and India ‘A’ teams. Shreyanka Patil, one of the uncapped stars from 2023 WPL, recently made her T20I debut. Shreyanka, the off-spin all-rounder, became a player of the tournament in the victorious India ‘A’ campaign at the Emerging Women’s Asia Cup.
Batters Vrinda Dinesh and Divya Gnanananda have been recent figures in the India ‘A’ team, while batter Shubha Satheesh got a call-up to India's Test side for games against England and Australia. Veda finds it pleasing to the core to see the young quartet to be in the national reckoning.
“It’s very heartening as I have seen Shreyanka from the time she’s been playing U15 and U19 cricket, even Vrinda as well and Shubha making it to the Test squad. They all have grown up well, rising through the ranks when it comes to state cricket and have been consistently performing.”
“That is very heartening to see because you are seeing them from a young age. You see their potential and back them. Eventually, when they go and wear that India cap, it gives you immense joy and it’s a proud moment for me on seeing these young cricketers coming in and making a mark in higher-level cricket.”