Australia's Alyssa Healy says the Women's Premier League will inspire more Indian girls to take up the sport

Mumbai (AFP) - Australia’s Alyssa Healy said Wednesday that the Women’s Premier League will inspire more Indian girls to take up the sport, with the Twenty20 tournament already a game-changer in its inaugural edition.

The WPL has earned India’s wealthy cricket board around $700 million in franchise and media rights, making it the second-most lucrative domestic women’s sport competition globally after US professional basketball.

Some players will earn more during the three-week tournament than they normally get in an entire year after India batter Smriti Mandhana went to Royal Challengers Bangalore for $410,000 in last month’s auction.

“The Women’s Premier League auction changed our sport forever. With the amount of money floating around, how could it not?,” Healy, a wicketkeeper-batter, wrote in her column for Cricket Australia on International Women’s Day.

“I can’t believe the opportunities that now exist for us to make a living playing cricket around the world. I’m here in Mumbai for the WPL, I played in The Hundred over in the UK and a women’s tournament has just been launched in Pakistan. How good is that?”

Healy captains the UP Warriorz franchise, which got the Australian for $85,000.

“Chatting with some of the Indian players, they say that it takes young players coming into their squad a while to feel like they belong at international level,” said Healy, a multiple World Cup winner and Commonwealth Games gold medallist.

“Now, they’re playing in the WPL, bowling to the likes of Beth Mooney (Australia) and Nat Sciver-Brunt (England) day-in, day-out, it’s scary to think how much better that will make the Indian team.”

She added, “Even more importantly, the WPL will inspire the next generation of young girls in India to see a future in cricket.

“The WBBL (Women’s Big Bash League) has been the envy of women’s cricket for eight years now, but there’s no denying the WPL will put pressure on our domestic competition.”

The tournament’s five debut franchises sold for nearly $200 million – more than the eight founding teams of the men’s Indian Premier League in 2008.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has gone all out to promote the WPL, including holding a star-studded opening ceremony with Bollywood stars early this month.

The tournament currently underway in Mumbai will conclude with the final at the Brabourne Stadium on March 26.