Former Australia all-rounder Lisa Sthalekar believes that the upcoming Women's T20 Challenge in the UAE might not necessarily be the best product without the top overseas players involved in it.
The Women's T20 Challenge will be played in the UAE in the playoff week of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the tournament is set to clash with the Women's Big Bash League (WBBL).
With both tournaments clashing against each other, the availability of the overseas players for the Indian competition is a big reason to worry.
"The unfortunate part is there's already a WBBL competition taking place. They could have done two things: they could have gone with what they're doing or the second thing is they could have bit the bullet and tried to find six or eight teams and hold it in December after the WBBL, potentially flying over the internationals," ESPNCricinfo quoted Sthalekar as saying.
"The issue for me is it the T20 Challenge is not necessarily the best product because you're going to miss out on Australian players and potentially some international players from other countries, so the product won't be as good as it could be," she added.
However, the cricketer turned commentator said that the Indian competition would be able to give their domestic players the opportunity to spend some time in the middle.
"But selfishly, from an Indian domestic point of view, it's giving those players a chance to play more cricket and potentially opening up a few more nodes for players on the fringe, who might get a chance. And that will, hopefully, allow the BCCI to see there is enough depth for the board to have a full-fledged women's IPL-style competition next year and then everyone can join in at the proper time, in April-May," Sthalekar said.
The Women's T20 Challenge was played for the very first time in 2018 and in a one-off match, the Supernovas were able to outclass the TrailBlazers.
Then, in 2019, the BCCI organised a three-team tournament instead of a one-off match, featuring a new team called Velocity along with Trailblazers and Supernovas.
"Having been part of and covered the T20 Challenge, the first game was two years ago, and it was played at 2 pm in the Mumbai heat. Nobody watched it, no one came, no one was thinking about it - it was a one-off game," Sthalekar said.
"They got things right last year when they held it during the finals (the playoffs of the IPL); viewers of the IPL in India get habituated turning the TV on at 7 pm, so when there was a break during the playoffs, they put the women's games on. The viewership was high as was the crowd attendance because it wasn't in the heat of the day, so we got around 15,000 people attending in Jaipur," she added.
This year, the Women's T20 Challenge will be played with three teams and it will go ahead in the playoffs week of the IPL. (ANI)