Former India captain Sourav Ganguly’s surprise announcement that a women’s IPL-style event will take place during the men’s Indian Premier League’s 13th edition in the UAE has received mixed response.

Ganguly, whose tenure as Board of Control for Cricket in India president is currently up in the air due to a pending hearing at Supreme Court, told PTI and senior cricket journalist Boria Majumdar that the plan for having the women’s event in UAE was very much on and that the national team will also return to action soon.

While top Indian cricketers and fans welcomed the decision, there were others, including Australian star Alyssa Healy, who questioned the timing of the women’s T20 challenge event. The tournament is scheduled to be played at the same time as the Women’s Big Bash League in Australia and that means international players will miss out on one of the two events.

The Indian women’s cricket team has not played since the T20 World Cup final in March. Mithali Raj, who only plays ODIs, last played in November.

With the proposed tour of England for a tri-series cancelled, it seemed the women’s team wouldn’t get much game-time before the ODI World Cup in February-March next year. However, Ganguly’s announcement on Sunday eased some of those concerns.

“I can confirm to you that the women’s IPL is very much on and we do have a plan in place for the national team also,” Ganguly told PTI ahead of the IPL Governing Council meeting on Sunday.

Here’s how Indian cricketers Mithali Raj, Jhulan Goswami, Shikha Pandey and Poonam Yadav reacted to Ganguly’s announcement:

The news was welcomed by many:

However, there were questions raised as well over the BCCI’s planning for the women’s IPL. Wicketkeeper-batter Healy, who played a starring role in Australia’s T20 World Cup triumph earlier this year, said it is unfortunate that the women’s IPL will clash with the WBBL.

Here’s the Twitter conversation Healy had with Majumdar:

At this point in the discussion, Mithali Raj and Jhulan Goswami joined in as well. The seasoned Indian cricketers reiterated their point that the BCCI’s decision is welcome. What they didn’t address, however, is the point made by Healy – that it is unfortunate the women’s IPL and WBBL will be played at the same time.

Here are some more reactions to the BCCI’s announcement regarding the women’s IPL:

Earlier, the BCCI had received criticism for cancelling the women’s team’s tour of England at a time when the IPL preparations are on in full swing.

The men’s IPL will be held between September 19 and November 8 or 10 (final date yet to be locked in) in the UAE due to the surge in Covid-19 cases in India. The four-team women’s event will also be fit in to the schedule, according to the BCCI chief.

The questions that rise now are the availability of players (marquee or otherwise) for the women’s event in UAE. It is all but impossible for the elite Australian cricketers to be a part of this event, as well as other international stars who will be in Australia for the WBBL.

While 2020 is extraordinary in terms of scheduling, there clearly seems to be an absence of communication or coordination between any of the boards regarding the women’s game. While England have led the way in relaunching the women’s game, India’s decision to pull out of a ODI tri-series (for which ECB reportedly were ready to foot the bill) ahead of a World Cup looming still seems questionable. On the other hand, Australia already took the initiative to organise the WBBL.

India have been left behind by the other two in the Big Three and these late decisions, while welcome in the sense that there is some cricket, still betray a lack of planning. It all seems a bit make-up-as-we-go-along at the moment.

But at least, as Raj and Goswami have said, there are matches to be played instead of idling away. Considering the alternative, that’s a good thing.

Note: It was earlier reported that the women’s event will comprise four teams. But it has been confirmed by the BCCI that only three teams will be participating in the Women’s T20 Challenge. Read details here.

(With inputs from PTI)