Bengal Pro T20 League: It can be a game changer for the girls, says Jhulan

Cricket Association of Bengal becomes the first state body to launch men's and women’s leagues together

Sourav Ganguly, Jhulan Goswami and CAB president Snehashis Ganguly at the launch of Bengal Pro T20 on 3 May. (photo: CAB media)
Sourav Ganguly, Jhulan Goswami and CAB president Snehashis Ganguly at the launch of Bengal Pro T20 on 3 May. (photo: CAB media)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

It was quite a historic moment on Friday, 3 May, when the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) formally launched the Bengal Pro T20 League for both men and women at a glitzy ceremony – making them the first state body in the country to take such a plunge. A move which, according to the iconic Jhulan Goswami, could be a game changer for the women’s game in the state in future.   

The state association’s T20 leagues for men, modelled after the money spinning IPL have been nothing new with the likes of Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) and Maharaja Trophy KSCA T20 in Bengaluru being in vogue for years, but CAB have gone a step forward by adding a women’s version in the eight-team league beginning from 11 June.

‘’While the national cricket boards have parallel women’s events like Women’s Premier League (WPL) in India, Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) in Australia or The Hundred in England, it’s a courageous move on part of CAB to be the first state association in the country to announce such a venture. It’s going to be quite a game changer for the sport in our state,’’ remarked Goswami, who was present at the launch along with former India captain Sourav Ganguly, CAB supremo Snehasish Ganguly and the team owners.  

Speaking to National Herald, Goswami – an inspirational figure for the sport – felt it’s a statement on the growth of women’s cricket in Bengal. ‘’A number of Bengal girls like Richa Ghosh, Deepti Sharma or Titas Sadhu are now playing for India and I have noticed that there has been a surge in the number of girls taking up cricket at the districts. The scenario has undergone a major change from the time when I started off from a remote town (Chakdah in North 24-Parganas),’’ said Goswami, who retired in 2022 and now wears multiple hats like a mentor with Mumbai Indians women’s team in WPL as well as a TV pundit for the IPL.

Looking at the long term fallout of the women’s T20 League, Goswami felt apart from creating a bigger talent pool in the state, it also opens up a career option for the players. ‘’Much like men’s cricket where scores of youngsters aspire to get a break in IPL, the promising girls get a platform to show their wares with an eye on the WPL if they are good enough. Not everyone can make the cut but it will create a healthy competition,’’ she said.

Thanking Dada and the CAB top brass for making the project a reality, Goswami said: ‘’I must also thank the franchise owners for a buy-in into the idea as they have agreed to invest into a process rather than looking at immediate gains,’’ she said.

Meanwhile, the men’s T20 League can address a long standing grievance in the local cricketing community that not enough Bengal players figure in the IPL – with the likes of Mohammed Shami, Wridhhiman Saha (now with Tripura), Mukesh Kumar, Shahbaz Ahmed or Abhishek Porel being more exceptions than the rule.

Tocuhing upon the sensitive issue, Sourav said:  ‘’This is a new era. We are getting to witness something special. T20 cricket is evolving with each passing day and the launch of Bengal Pro T20 League will surely help Bengal cricket in days to come. I hope the men's and women's cricketers will be benefitted immensely. With IPL growing hugely, I hope players from Bengal will represent IPL surely in the coming years. I wish all the players the best for the forthcoming league.’’

Following are the eight teams, with their owners, along with men and women marquee players for the inaugural season:

Kolkata Royal Tigers: Abishek Porel & Mita Paul (Owners: Lux Industries & Shyam Steel Consortium).

Harbour Diamonds: Manoj Tiwary & Sukanya Parida (GD Mining)

Rashmi Medinipur Wizards: Abhimanyu Easwaran & Richa Ghosh (Rashmi Group)

Servotec Siliguri Strikers: Akash Deep & Priyanka Bala (ServoTec Power Systems)

Rarh Tigers: Shahbaz Ahmed & Titas Sadhu (Shrachi Group)

Adamas Howrah Warriors: Anustup Majumdar & Dhara Gujjar (Adamas University)

Malda Sobisco Smashers: Mukesh Kumar & Hrishita Basu (Sobisco Ltd)

Murshidabad Kings: Sudip Kumar Gharami & Deepti Sharma (Pritam Electricals & Jalan Builders Consortium).

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