It wasn't much of a possibility a couple of years back but India captain Mithali Raj believes a women's Indian Premier League is closer to reality after her team's brilliant World Cup campaign in England. Asked if she expects a women's IPL soon, Mithali said: "If you had asked me this question, a couple of years back, probably I would not (support the idea to have women's IPL), but (may be) now since after going to the World Cup and the way they have responded and improved the standard of women's cricket, taking it to different level."
For a women's IPL, the general standard of the game needs to be good and Mithali feels that it has happened as the statistics of this World Cup suggests.
"Scoring more than 300 plus, every team has got a centurion and a five wicket haul bowler, so it is probably because of the leagues in Australia and England and may be a couple of players have improved their standard and they have performed very well for the country," she said.
Mithali feels that an IPL will also help the domestic players improve their standard.
"We now have a base, it will help even the domestic players in terms of exposure, but again it is up to the BCCI to organise the league. As a player, I feel now the domestic players are exposed to the good cricketing environment and interact with foreign players, they will benefit," Mithali stated.
She is proud that her team has now got global acceptance.
"This was a moment when a team sport apart from men's cricket garnered so much attention because it's individual sport always gets that mileage.
"In team games, irrespective of having 2-3 good players, if the team does not do well, you do not get that attention, but it feels nice because we play cricket and it is like a religion in India," she said when asked if it's a watershed moment in women's game.
But the bunch of 15 women fully deserves it, feels their captain.
"They always deserved it. Now because of broadcasting and televising of the game, it is more, coming under BCCI has made a difference. I always believed if more matches are televised, we can attract more people," said Raj, who became the leading run-scorer in women's One-day Internationals, during the event.
"The way the girls have played, Indian and other teams have put up a good standard of cricket in World Cup and it has given impetus to women cricket globally, it has given us more positive feedback," she added.
The skipper lauded BCCI for bringing a structure in women's cricket.
"Since two-three years, we have got days game in the domestic structure, BCCI has made an effort to get under-16 level, that is the basic level where the girls can get into to play the higher level. I have myself played U-16s, U-19s a lot, they are coming with U-23 as well.
"There are changes in the domestic structure to develop quality players but still there is a huge gap between domestic and international standards. It is the matter of playing more games and giving them more opportunities," she observed.
Asked what she wanted BCCI to do more, she quipped,"If you ask me, I am playing since 1999, when there were no monetary benefits but you should ask the question to those who have come now."
But the skipper agreed that her team needs to buck as far as their T20 game is concerned especially after their disastrous World T20 campaign.
"We put in the same hard work that we would put for the T20 World Cup because it is a different format and requires different preparation. It will start very soon and it will be challenging as India have a long way to go in T20 format," concluded Mithali.
(With PTI Inputs)