Annesha Ghosh is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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BCCI president Sourav Ganguly confirmed on Sunday that the Women's T20 Challenge will be held in the UAE on the sidelines of the IPL in November. However, with the WBBL scheduled from October 17 to November 29, several players from Australia, including Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes, reacted to the announcement sharply, while Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami, among other Indian players, welcomed it. Here's how the debate unfolded on Twitter:
Healy, Player of the Final as Australia won the T20 World Cup earlier this year, kicked things off, saying that hosting the T20 Challenge while the WBBL would be on may not be a good idea after all.
Haynes, the vice-captain of the Australia side, said that the women's game needed its best talents on the field, and not competing in different parts of the world.
The T20 Challenge would not have clashed with the WBBL if it had taken place when it was scheduled to, on the sidelines of the IPL in April-May. Now, with the IPL moving to September-November, things have changed.
From the point of view of the premier Indian women cricketers, there was also the opportunity to get some match time if the white-ball tour of England hadn't been cancelled. That was due in July-August, but after it was postponed, the ECB had suggested playing a tri-series also involving South Africa in September. The BCCI, however, opted out.
India ODI captain, Raj, meanwhile welcomed the news as a start to preparations for the ODI World Cup, the planning for which, the ICC has said, continues even as further assessments are made by NZC.
Goswami, who, like Raj, represents India only in ODIs, expressed her eagerness to get back to playing, as did Poonam Yadav. Aside from the T20 Challenge, BCCI's cricket operations team is working out a schedule where India Women are likely to have two full-fledged white-ball series against South Africa and West Indies before playing the ODI World Cup in New Zealand next year, according to PTI.
As reported by ESPNcricinfo last week, at least three top-drawer India players were WBBL-bound, pending no-objection certificates from the BCCI. Healy wondered about overseas players' participation in both tournaments now that there's a clear clash in the scheduling.
New Zealand veteran Suzie Bates also joined in the debate. Bates, along with her compatriots Sophie Devine and Lea Tahuhu, have been a part of both editions of the T20 Challenge so far. Devine and Bates were also part of runners-up Adelaide Strikers at the WBBL last season, and the former is set to sign up with the Perth Scorchers this year.
And then there's a third domestic tournament: the Hundred. Although Covid-19 has pushed back the inaugural edition of the English 100-ball competition - both men's and women's - to 2021, Charlotte Edwards stressed that the health of the women's game depended on all three domestic tournaments co-existing.
Jess Jonassen, the Australia allrounder who was recently named two-time defending champions Brisbane Heat's captain, also weighed in.
A last-minute stalemate between the BCCI and Cricket Australia in the lead-up to the T20 Challenge last year had led to the Australians missing out on the Indian tournament. The Indian players, meanwhile, could not participate in the WBBL last season as they focussed on preparing for the T20 World Cup instead, with assignments against South Africa and West Indies. The last thing players from both countries would want is another standoff between the two boards.