WPL will lift India to Australia’s standard: Harris

Allrounder Grace Harris has predicted the Indian national side will improve to Australia’s standard on the back of the country’s lucrative new domestic competition, the Women’s Premier League.

The first edition of the WPL, the women’s equivalent of the Indian Premier League, will begin in March after the five inaugural franchises sold for a combined figure of roughly $A811 million earlier this month.

With broadcast rights reportedly worth $167m over five years, the competition has wherewithal to offer the richest contracts in the history of women’s cricket.

“It’s going to drive the women’s game even further and really put it on the world stage,” Australian spinner Alana King told AAP.

“This is where the women’s game is at and this is what it deserves.”

In total, there are 30 roster spots designated for overseas players from ICC full-member nations.

King said she believed every member of Australia’s current T20I squad had nominated for next month’s WPL auction and put themselves in the running for potentially life-changing pay-days.

But as Australia prepare for next month’s T20 World Cup in South Africa, Harris is expecting Indian cricket to be the biggest winner from the WPL.

India are currently ranked fourth in the ICC’s standings for both WT20Is and WODIs.

Australia sit atop both charts thanks in no small part to the professional domestic competitions, the WNCL and WBBL, which feature a range of elite talents for national selectors to choose from.

Prior to the advent of the WPL, only England had a domestic women’s set-up to rival Australia’s.

“The better domestic comp that you can get, the stronger the internationals you’ll have,” Harris told AAP.

“(The WPL) will change Indian cricket.

“They’ll be a much bigger powerhouse than what they already are.

“The women’s India team, they’ll be pushing our boundaries and driving international standards of women’s cricket as well as Australia.”

The Australian women’s team already have a busy calendar, the demands of which led captain Meg Lanning to take five months of personal leave from August last year.

The WPL comes after another busy period for the Australian team, who travelled to India in December, hosted Pakistan in January and will spend February in South Africa.

Fast-bowler Darcie Brown admitted she was initially hesitant to nominate for the WPL auction and risk sacrificing valuable downtime at home.

“We’d have to leave straight away from the World Cup to go over there if we were to get picked up, and there’s so much cricket getting played later this year as well,” she told AAP.

“But it’d be an opportunity that’d be silly to pass up.”

The range of different men’s franchise competitions has left Australia’s best players needing to prioritise certain series or leagues over others.

With another competition on the calendar, and a lucrative one at that, women’s players are set to be forced into similar decisions.

But King said no amount of franchise money could tempt Australian women’s players away from national duties.

“We love representing our country. We wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world,” she said.

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