Sydney, The Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) of Australia is hoping to tap Indian viewership for its seventh edition as it looks up to Indian women stars to participate in the league scheduled to run from October 14 to November 27.
With uncertainty surrounding the availability of England women players as they will be busy in a series in Pakistan in early October and quarantine rules may force them to miss a part of WBBL, Cricket Australia is hoping that the touring Indian women players like Shafali Verma will fill in the overseas numbers.
“[Shafali Verma] is on everyone’s list, no doubt,” Lisa Sthalekar, former Australia woman cricketer and Sydney Sixers franchise list manager, told Australian media on Thursday.
Shafali is being linked to Sydney Sixers, who are leading the race to include the Indian batter in their squad. The 17-year-old from Rohtak is the world’s top-ranked T20I batter and she hit 96 on her Test debut recently. She is being linked to Sydney Sixers along with left-arm spinner Radha Yadav.
“She loves Australian conditions, we saw that in the T20 World Cup. Each club will have some vacancies and (there may be) an Indian player there that could fit that role … I am sure that they are picking up the phone and making those calls,” added Sthalekar.
“It helps that they are in the country and they have already done the two weeks’ quarantine.”
India will tour Australia in September and October to play a one-off Test and a T20 International series. The two series will be played in the first half of October.
The third and final T20I will end on October 11, just three days before the start of WBBL.
Last year, the WBBL franchises had eyed Indian players but they weren’t available.
Sydney Thunder, who were eyeing Smriti Mandhana last season may sign up the left-handed batter this season. Harmanpreet Kaur, Deepti Sharma, Jemimah Rodrigues, and Poonam Yadav also likely to be in demand.
Sydney Thunder WBBL list manager Alex Blackwell said they will look at local talent as well.
“I think we always want to attract the best overseas players and we have certainly been in conversations with some very exciting prospects and will in due course, confirm those players,” Blackwell said on Thursday.
“[But] it’s not just about the overseas players, I think one of the strengths of Sydney Thunder is that they’ve developed and grown players from New South Wales and country areas, and I think the core of the squad is fairly stable with a great mix of young players coming through.”