Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
No decision has been taken on the participation of India's players in the inaugural Women's Super League to be held in England in July-August, BCCI secretary Anurag Thakur has said.
Several leading players such as Australia captain Meg Lanning, New Zealand captain Suzie Bates, who was rated by Wisden as the leading women's cricketer for 2015, the World T20-winning Stafanie Taylor and her West Indies team-mate Deandra Dottin were named to partner the English women for the franchise-based six-team tournament. There were no Indians named in the list released by the ECB.
ESPNcricinfo understands the ECB had sent a letter to all Full Members seeking their permission to enlist players but the BCCI was yet to discuss the issue. With 18 foreign players already announced - only three can feature in the playing XIs - Indian players are effectively ruled out.
Thakur, however, added the Indian board was also mulling an IPL-style T20 league for women. "We have not taken any decision [on not sending Indian women to the T20 league in England] as of now," Thakur told ESPNcricinfo. "As far as leagues are concerned, we are also thinking something [on the same lines] within the BCCI as well. We will decide on it during the meeting at the end of the month."
Clare Connor, the ECB's head of women's cricket, said her board had contacted various countries in January. "We wrote to all the boards in January, when we had final approval from the ECB about the six Super League hosts. We let them know where we were with the Super League and what we were looking to do with the overseas players: the number of overseas players (18), how we were looking to involve the world's best.
"We communicated with the BCCI, as we did with all other boards. They made their own decision that they were not going to put players forward or share their contact details."
India's top women cricketers could not play in the inaugural Big Bash League in Australia in December-January either. Captain Mithali Raj and fast bowler Jhulan Goswami were on Adelaide Strikers' radar but were denied permission since the tournament dates overlapped with India's domestic season, which was scheduled to be televised for the first time.
The delay in making India's players available for the WSL is surprising considering the team's next international assignment, a limited-overs series against West Indies, is scheduled for November. It was common sentiment within the Indian side that an opportunity to play in England, where the World Cup will be held in 2017, would help them prepare better.
Unlike the Women's Big Bash League where franchises signed players directly, the ECB decided to form a central pool of overseas players before narrowing down the squads of the six teams.
"We asked whether the teams would prefer to contact their own players about it or whether they would prefer us to contact them directly," Connor said. "Mostly, we contacted players directly: the boards gave us their main squad's email address and we then communicated with players, asking them to express an interest if they wished to be considered for selection for the Super League."
Connor also confirmed the ECB decided to do away with a draft or auction system to lend balance to all the squads. "We met the teams to discuss the balance of their squads," she said. "Of course, there were a few players that lots of teams wanted. But actually, it worked out really neatly because, once the teams knew which England players they had, that dictated whether they needed an opening bat, spinner, wicketkeeper or whatever. It was just a case of trying to adhere to our principle of getting the best versus the best."
With inputs from Vithushan Ehantharajah and Arun Venugopal