The popularity of women’s cricket is on the rise but a full-fledged women’s Indian Premier League is at least four years away, Board of Control for Cricket in India president Sourav Ganguly told India Today.

In India, women’s cricket has seen a steady increase in popularity ever since Mithali Raj and Co reached the final of the 2017 ICC World Cup in England. Following that, the BCCI conducted an exhibition women’s T20 match – which featured several international stars – before Indian Premier League 2018.

The success of that trial prompted the Indian cricket board to introduce the Women’s T20 Challenge earlier this year, which was a three-team event played in Jaipur.

Despite all this progress, though, Ganguly believes now is not the time to launch a separate IPL for women.

“You need to understand the practicality of it,” he said. “You need a lot more women players. I see that in four years’ time, to get a seven-team IPL with the best women players [in participation].”

The re-introduction of A tours for women is expected to have a deeper, more positive impact on the game in India. But Ganguly also believes the state associations need to be given time to get stronger, so that the gulf between the standard of domestic and international women’s cricket reduces.

“You have to let the state association teams get stronger, a lot of them are getting stronger,” he said. “The push for women’s cricket has been enormous over the last few years. Three years down the line, when you have 150-160 players, you can take the IPL forward. Right now, we have 50-60 players. With the push BCCI has for women’s cricket, that will only increase.”