Women's Big Bash League 2016-17 January 13, 2017

BCCI, CSA pull players out of WBBL

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The BCCI have exercised their right to withdraw the batsmen Smriti Mandhana and Harmanpreet Kaur from the Women's Big Bash League before the competition has finished.

ESPNcricinfo has learned the duo will return to India ahead of the WBBL finals to participate in a training camp before their 2017 World Cup qualification tournament, leaving Brisbane Heat and Sydney Thunder without their prized recruits if competing in the trophy decider.

The development, alongside Cricket South Africa's retrieval of Dane van Niekerk and Marizanne Kapp from Sydney Sixers duty for the last four regular season fixtures, has bolstered calls for a dedicated ICC exclusivity schedule window for the WBBL.

Anthony Everard, the head of the BBL, explained that the No Objection Certificate process - which includes provision for overseas boards to call back their national players for duty as they see fit - is respected widely, but acknowledged "degrees of frustration" experienced by the affected clubs at this late stage.

Everard believes the WBBL, in its second season, has built a case for a window as the first women's competition of its kind. "Given we've invested significantly in this competition, and the important role it plays in the development of women's cricket not only within Australia but globally, we have at least got a seat at the table to have that discussion," he said.

It is a view shared by former England captain, and now Adelaide Striker, Charlotte Edwards. She said it was "frustrating" that her team-mate Sophie Devine missed two games to play for Wellington in New Zealand's T20 event days after making the WBBL's fastest century. "Hopefully [a window] is going to be something looked at in the future where the dates don't clash and we can have as many of the New Zealand girls as possible in this tournament," she said.

A Sixers spokeswoman confirmed their South African pair had been signed before it it was clear they would be missing over a quarter of the regular season for five ODIs against Bangladesh. In turn, she added her club's support for the window in future seasons. "I would be surprised," she said, "if CA wasn't advocating on our behalf so that it became a priority."

The Thunder are at this stage unlikely to incur the cost of replacing Kaur with another international, while the Heat are hopeful that West Indian Deandra Dottin will recover from facial surgery in time to fill Mandhana's vacancy.

The Sixers, who are two games clear at the top of the table, will substitute the South Africans with England wicketkeeper Amy Jones and Irish rookie Kim Garth for their last four group games. Kapp, spearheading their attack, is the most frugal bowler in WBBL02 to date.

Perth Scorchers allrounder and New Zealand skipper Suzie Bates was the most prominent international representative drawn away from WBBL duty last season, missing six games where clashes existed across the Tasman in the Christmas-New Year period.

While stressing the efforts made by New Zealand Cricket, Bates says it continues to be a "really difficult" process for all parties; both boards wanting players to be available full-time. "It is hard when it is the players that are left with those decisions," she said, concurring with Edwards that it would be "helpful" having a window to avoid the predicament into the future.

Bates also noted the difference between the depth in the men's and women's tournaments in finding suitable players. "No one wants to dilute their teams because we just don't have the numbers," she observed. "The top ten players in the world are in demand from everyone."

A competition insider echoed the concern for the fledgling tournament replacing marquee players as easily as it is the case for the men's equivalent. "There just isn't the depth," he said, contrasting the BBL where "every player manager in the world" is contacting clubs when a vacancy arrives due to injury or international selection.

Another affected player returned home to New Zealand was allrounder Amy Satterthwaite, captain of Canterbury in New Zealand, who agreed with the Hurricanes that she would miss two games, half of the amount she wasn't available for in WBBL01. As was the case with Devine, Hobart lost the game the experienced allrounder was absent for, while the other was washed out.

Everard is confident the Trans-Tasman piece of the puzzle is "solvable" between the boards between seasons. "Ideally you want to get to a point where it becomes a win/win," he said. "I think there's a workable solution in there somewhere."

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