Matches (11)
Pakistan vs New Zealand (1)
IPL (2)
WT20 Qualifier (4)
RHF Trophy (4)

ICC set to limit clashes between franchise leagues and women's internationals

How the first Future Tours Programme for women aims to get ahead of burgeoning T20 circuit

Firdose Moonda
Firdose Moonda
The ICC is confident women's international and league cricket can take place side-by-side  •  Asian Cricket Council

The ICC is confident women's international and league cricket can take place side-by-side  •  Asian Cricket Council

The ICC hopes they will be able to co-ordinate a women's international cricket calendar with fewer clashes with franchise leagues than they have done in the men's game by getting ahead of the T20 circuit thanks to their already published Future Tours Programme.
Last year, the ICC unveiled its first women's FTP, months before the Women's PSL and IPL were confirmed, and the game's global governing body is confident of keeping a handle on the growth of the women's game so both international and league cricket can take place side-by-side.
"The balance between the women's international fixtures and the domestic leagues is something we are going to have a better chance at co-ordinating than the way the men's calendar has developed over the last decade or so," Geoff Allardice, the ICC's CEO said at a round-table discussion with media on Tuesday.
"We are starting to see a fairly regular schedule of cricket for the top female players around the world and the release of the first FTP for women's international cricket was a big stepping stone for trying to get ahead of that and trying to avoid clashes wherever possible with some of those leagues. It is something we are monitoring on a regular basis and hopefully as we update the FTP, it's something we will continue to do to stay ahead of."
A key difference between the men's and women's game, which Allardice believes will work in the women's calendar's favour, is the scarcity of Test matches. "The one difference is that there isn't the same chunks of time taken up with Test series in the women's calendar and that gives a little bit more freedom to avoid those clashes," he said.
The women's FTP only has seven Tests scheduled for the 2022-25 period, which leaves plenty of time for white-ball formats.
Already, several women's teams are playing T20 cricket in preparation for next month's T20 World Cup, set to be followed by the inaugural editions of the Women's IPL and PSL. The WIPL is of particular interest, with applications for teams already out, and the player auction set for January 26. Just as the men's IPL provided big-money and development opportunities for Indian and foreign players, the ICC sees the WIPL as a tournament that can do the same.
"It will be tremendous for Indian cricket but also for overseas players who participate in the tournament," Snehal Pradhan, the ICC's new Women's Cricket Manager, said. "We have seen in the India-Australia series, not only did we have great crowds, we also had a great standard of cricket which has been a good advertisement for whatever might come next. The opportunity for so many more players to become professional and become close to professionalism will boost the depth and the quality in not just India but all over the world."
Growing the women's game globally is also top of mind for the ICC, and one of the key reasons they opted to host a women's Under-19 T20 World Cup (which starts on Saturday) and to extend the field to 16 teams, six more than the senior tournament. Unlike the men's game, where only 10 teams play Test cricket and of those, there is a clear hierarchy of who plays more often and who the top-tier nations are, the ICC intends for the women's game to develop more equally than men's, although Australia are already clear frontrunners.
Allardice pointed to the two newcomers at the U19 T20 World Cup - Indonesia, who won their first warm-up game against Zimbabwe, and Rwanda - as success stories, while Pradhan mentioned Brazil and Thailand's awarding of female national contracts as another example of how the game has spread.
"The fact that there are more playing opportunities at the global level is one of the key things that will advance the game outside of the top countries," Pradhan said. "We've seen this in the last three or four years - countries like Thailand and Brazil have offered full-time contracts to their women's teams ahead of men's teams because they recognise there are opportunities for those teams to get to major world tournaments. It's worth noting that it's a very important strategic decision to make this (U19 T20 World Cup) tournament a 16-team event and therefore more opportunities at the global level."
Allardice confirmed that the senior women's T20 World Cup will move from 10 teams to 12 in 2026 and that the U19 tournament could see more than 16 teams in future, with it becoming a key step in the development of the game. "The establishment of the Under-19 World Cup is going to help in terms of providing a pathway for players in some of the countries that perhaps haven't been leading the development of the women's game. That's one of the reasons why the Under-19 T20 World Cup is such a strategically important decision for cricket," he said.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent