For the longest time, women’s cricket in India was only growing. It was never considered fully grown by the board, which was evident in how they hesitated to launch the Women’s Premier League. But once they did, the move has revolutionised the way people have looked at the women’s sport in the country.
Smriti Mandhana going for 3.4 crore was just a start, as several high-profile players got a from the franchises. Ellyse Perry, who was bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) emphasised that there is something bigger to play than the money and the monetary value.
"From my perspective, I don't think any of us ever led the conversation in terms of monetary value," she said. "I think there's something at play that's much bigger than that. Of course, remuneration and the chance to earn that kind of money is wonderful, but much larger than that I think is just the general growth of the sport right around the world.
Perry also spoke about how India being the spiritual home of cricket, will help a lot of cricketers to take up the game. Not just that, the Australian all-rounder weighed everything in terms of the development of the sport across the border, and not in the monetary sense of things.
"India is kind of, I guess, the spiritual home of cricket in a lot of senses. And I think now that women are starting to have a really strong presence in the Indian market and also in the Indian game, that is so much more important than any kind of dollar value that is placed on any player. So from that perspective, the chat was just around wanting to be involved.
"Of course, after the auction, those discussions come in about certain value and how much people are sold for, which in itself is a weird kind of concept to swallow. But yeah, I just think it's so much bigger than that. The discussion from us as a group was just what it's going to do for the game, not so much what it's going to do for an individual."
Perry’s Australian team-mate and close friend, Ashleigh Gardner was one of the cricketers who benefitted from the bidding war at the WPL Auction, with the all-rounder being bought at quite a high price of INR 3.2 crore, to Gujarat Giants. Perry, who has played alongside and watched Gardner in close-quarters, called her a ‘phenomenal player’.
"Ash is a phenomenal player," Perry said. "I was fortunate enough to play with Ashleigh in her first WBBL campaign with the [Sydney] Sixers and I don't think she's looked back since then. Year on year, she's just got better and better.
Alongside that, the all-rounder also added that her ability to be consistent with the ball is something that has differentiated from the others in world cricket.
"Probably what stands out to me the most now is the contribution that she's making with her bowling. Added to the obvious power that she possesses as a batter and ability to take games away there, now the consistency in her bowling and what she's contributing during our fielding innings just makes her such a threat. She has every facet of the game covered off and really is just perfectly built for T20 cricket.