WPL player auction likely on February 11 or 13, Mumbai could host first edition
Jhulan Goswami, meanwhile, is set to join the Mumbai franchise as bowling coach and mentor
The inaugural Women's Premier League (WPL) player auction is likely to take place on February 11 in New Delhi or February 13 in Mumbai. A final decision will be made by the BCCI this week.
Originally, the BCCI was looking at holding the players' auction on February 6 in Mumbai, which would have allowed the five newly-minted franchises just under a month to get ready for the inaugural WPL season, which is expected to take place between March 4 and 24. However, the BCCI was forced to change that plan for two reasons.
One, the majority of the owners of the five WPL franchises also own teams in the ILT20 in the UAE and the SA20 in South Africa, with the finals of these tournaments scheduled to take place on February 12 and 11, respectively. It could lead to a problem for the franchises because their owners and support staff would want to stay with the teams for the knockouts and also attend the WPL player auction, which are all going to be held in different countries.
The owners of three IPL teams - Mumbai Indians, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals - along with Adani Group and Capri Global - secured the five WPL franchises, paying a total of INR 4669.99 crore (USD 572.78 million approx) in what is the biggest deal in women's cricket.
Four of the five WPL franchises own teams in the ILT20: MI Emirates, Dubai Capitals, Gulf Giants (Adani), and Sharjah Warriors (Capri). The owners of Mumbai and Capitals operate teams in the SA20 as well: MI Cape Town and Pretoria Capitals.
The second reason is that the franchises have had limited time to assemble their coaching staff, which would be a key factor while picking players at the auction. Accordingly, it is understood that the franchises collectively requested the BCCI to postpone the auction from February 6 to a later date.
WPL first season likely to take place in Mumbai
The BCCI has earmarked two venues in Mumbai - Brabourne Stadium and the DY Patil Cricket Academy in Navi Mumbai - to host the 22 matches that will comprise the inaugural WPL season.
The key reason for limiting the tournament to one city is the potential logistical challenges the BCCI fears it could face due to the WPL starting close on the heels of the Women's T20 World Cup, which ends in South Africa on February 26. With less than a week available to fly to India, playing at just two venues in the same city would remove travel obstacles and keep players ready for the matches that will be played in a tight window.
Jhulan Goswami to join Mumbai as bowling coach and mentor
Former India fast bowler Jhulan Goswami has been roped in by Mumbai as bowling coach and mentor. While Mumbai have not made the news public, the development was disclosed by former India captain Sourav Ganguly, who has re-joined Capitals as team director after serving as BCCI president from 2019 to October 2022.
Goswami, who is 40, retired from international cricket last year. Ganguly said the Capitals had also been keen on roping in Goswami, who took 355 international wickets across formats, the most by any bowler in women's cricket. "Jhulan has gone to Mumbai," Ganguly told media at Eden Gardens on Tuesday. "We had given her an offer, but she is going to Mumbai."
Additional reporting by Sreshth Shah
Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo