Cricket is the most popular sport in India and a few countries worldwide. From being merely a recreational competition, cricket has grown to become a financial juggernaut through the IPL. And since its inception, it has rivaled other major sports leagues in the world.
However, the most notable references to the sport were often associated with men’s games. Nowadays, women’s cricket can stand individually and begin its match to compete with the men’s sport. Many fans now watch women’s cricket, and the salaries, endorsement deals, and betting revenues are slowly becoming as popular as the men’s. Everything about its current direction shows much promise.
This article discusses the growth of women in cricket and how women’s cricket is now more popular than ever.
History of the Women’s Cricket Game
Contrary to most beliefs, women’s cricket has been around for quite some time. Although its growth started with the Big Bash League’s inauguration in 2015, it had already shown some potential. In 1745, the first women’s cricket game was played between two villages in the UK. Subsequently, several games started erupting everywhere else, and by the early 1800s, there were hundreds of matches played by women.
It wasn’t until 1894 that Lily Poulett-Harris created the first female cricket league in Australia. She was the Oyster Cove team captain, and her dedication ensured that women’s cricket continued to develop. By 1958, the International Women’s Cricket Council was formed to coordinate worldwide women’s games. Then the major countries that participated were England, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, West Indies, and Denmark.
It wasn’t smooth sailing initially, as the women’s cricket league faced a lot of discrimination and limited support. Notwithstanding, they created the foundation for tournaments like the WBBL.
The tournament’s inauguration was the fire that sparked women’s cricket popularity across the globe. The competition was broadcasted live by several networks, with popular countries like Australia, South Africa, India, and England having many top-quality female cricketers.
With continuous investments in equal gender rights by many nations, the sport will continue to develop and strive to reach the men’s level. Still, the game has come a long way since its first official matches in the late 18th century.
Women’s Cricket: The Ascent to Popularity
The breakthrough in women’s cricket began in 2015 after the Women’s Big Bash League (BBL) was launched in Australia. Its competition garnered the largest audience ever seen globally. The WBBL also heralded the rise of more stars, businesses, and governments investing in the women’s area of the sport. Subsequently, the big three in women’s cricket, namely England, India, and Australia, all increased their efforts to develop the sport.
Five years later, the 2020 cricket World Cup final was another turning point for female cricket. The game marked the first visit of more than 80,000 fans to the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Two of the big three in the sport met at the finals, with India losing to Australia in an incredibly entertaining encounter. Nevertheless, the Australian women’s team fought hard to emerge as worthy winners in history’s most-attended women’s cricket match.
The final also showcased the first time the pot price of the male cricket world cup was equal to that of the females. Because the next men’s world cup had the same $1,000,000 pot price as the women’s, it didn’t end there. The prize money for the 50-over format in 2022 was increased to $3.5 million. A big raise from the former $660,000 prize money. The men’s prize still stands at $4 million, but it is evident that equality is undoubtedly making its way into the cricket space.
That final marked the progress of the women’s team and permanently created a clear pathway for women’s cricket success.
The Future of Women’s Cricket
The future of women’s cricket displays a positive outlook because there is now a high level of interest in the game. Many young women are getting more inspired to pursue their cricket dreams as they watch their heroes on the pitch and bet on Cricket Parimatch games.
The England and Wales Cricket Board approved an investment of £20 million to fund women’s cricket for the next five years. This will help develop the women’s game in areas lacking and bring about more exposure and engagement from fans worldwide. India has also taken strides to improve its women’s teams after a painful defeat in the 2020 World Cup Final. That moment was also an important stepping stone for a country that lives and breathes cricket.
There’s still a lot to be done before women’s cricket can stand side-by-side with men’s cricket in terms of popularity. However, what is evident is the growth potential of the women’s game and the bright future ahead, which is great to see.
With the inevitable growth of the women’s cricket game, it is unlikely that any setback will derail its development now or in the future. Although there’s yet much to do, these are exciting times to be a female cricketer, even more so in India.