Alyssa Healy has reiterated her stance that the success of women’s domestic competitions such as the WBBL and the Women’s T20 Challenge is contingent upon the participation of the “best players from around the world.” Stressing on South Africa women’s run to the T20 World Cup semi-finals earlier this year as a testament to the WBBL as a springboard to international success, Healy said she hoped that decision-making around scheduling of domestic tournaments is determined only by what’s “actually best” for women’s cricket.
“The women’s game is naturally different to the men’s game. Sometimes, decisions that are made at the top level for the men’s game doesn’t necessarily reflect what we need within women’s cricket,” Healy, the premier Australia and Sydney Sixers wicketkeeper-batter, told ESPNcricinfo during a chat on Beyond the Boundary, the ICC’s recently released documentary on the 2020 T20 World Cup. “Hopefully, the boards are deciding what’s best for the women’s game because it is actually best for the women’s game.”
Healy, who had earlier expressed her discontent on Twitter about the clash in scheduling of the T20 Challenge, the Indian T20 tournament considered a prelude to an IPL-style women’s league, weeks after the schedule for the upcoming edition of the WBBL had been announced, explained the reasoning behind her displeasure.
“Think those seven or eight South African players in the Big Bash last year – it’s no coincidence that they were in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup earlier this year.”
“Personally, why I was so vocal about that clash was that there’s no need for domestic competitions around the world to clash in the women’s game at the moment,” Healy said. “There’s plenty of time throughout the year to schedule these events.
“For me, personally, it’s something I will absolutely love to be involved in, but I have got a WBBL to be part of and, for me, that’s the premier domestic competition in the world right now for T20 cricket. And, for me, I can’t turn down a contract like that to be able to go elsewhere to play in another domestic competition.”
To underscore the role of the WBBL in the growth of international cricket, Healy called to mind the T20 World Cup campaign of South Africa, whose appearance in this year’s semi-finals was just the second such instance in seven editions of the 20-over world tournament. Although they were knocked out by hosts and eventual champions Australia, South Africa’s three straight wins, including against last edition’s runners-up England, en route to topping Group B, remained a highlight.
For the sixth edition of the WBBL, to be held from October 17 to November 29, six South Africa players, including captain Dane van Niekerk, have already signed contracts across five franchises. Their availability for the three-team T20 Challenge, scheduled to run from November 1-10 on the sidelines of the IPL in the UAE, therefore, remains unlikely, and most top Australia and New Zealand players are also set to miss out.
“In my mind, there’s no need that they need to clash,” Healy said. “And, ultimately, for these competitions to thrive, we want the best players from around the world to take part in it and we’ve seen the success of the WBBL over the last five years and the success that it’s led to in international cricket.
“Think those seven or eight South African players in the Big Bash last year – it’s no coincidence that they were in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup earlier this year. So I just think it’s great for the women’s game as a whole.”
The overlap also thrust the participation of the Indian contingent in the WBBL that ESPNcricinfo understands was to feature at least four players, including two debutants, into uncertainty. The Australian players had missed the T20 Challenge last year too.
While Healy hoped that the T20 Challenge this year is a success and pledged her support for it as well as a potential “fully fledged” variant of it, she suggested that slotting in the WBBL and the T20 Challenge “at opposite ends of the year potentially” might go some way towards helping Australians and other internationals play in both tournaments.
“It’s fantastic there’s talk of a women’s IPL [T20 Challenge]; I’d love to see a fully fledged one [an IPL-style women’s league],” Healy said. “I’d be standing right behind it and supporting it wherever I can. It’s great that the BCCI are talking about making that happen for the domestic players in India. I think it’s the next step for them to have a fully-fledged competition of their own, just like the WBBL as we have seen – what’s it’s done for women’s cricket in this country.
“I just hope it didn’t clash and I would like to see them play at opposite ends of the year potentially – whatever it might look like, so that us international cricketers can stick our hand up, and come over and support and play a role, if we are wanted. That was probably why I was so vocal about it. But, in saying that, it is such a fantastic thing for Indian cricket to have their own competition and I hope it’s really successful for them.”