In December 2022, there was a trailer to how women’s cricket in India was perceived, with nearly 40,000 people turning out for India’s clash against Australia. It was a real indicator that the inaugural edition of the Women’s Premier League (WPL) was going to be met with the same voracity.
Following her side’s loss in the eliminator stage of the competition, UP Warriorz’ skipper Alyssa Healy talked about the tournament as being ‘frenetic, chaotic, high-scoring and exciting’ something that she had envisaged before landing in Mumbai for her side’s first game in the WPL.
“It has been amazing, everything that I thought it would be, it has been frenetic, chaotic, high-scoring, exciting and that is what you would associate with the WPL,” Healy said in the post-match press conference.
Over the last two weeks, crowds have turned up in huge numbers, and there were at least 40,000 people watching the Eliminator between the UP Warriorz and Mumbai. On every aspect, Healy insisted that the tournament has been a huge sport, and having ‘home and away’ fixtures in the future would only elevate the tournament’s status.
“To have 42,000 people watching you is the reason why this tournament started, it is about bringing crowd into this sport, and inspiring the future. The tournament has been a huge success. It is really exciting for the sport, and we can really take the franchises to another level, with home and away fixtures. It has been a great success, and I have loved being a part of it,” she added.
However, Healy reckoned that she always expected the WPL to be big but the reality hit home when the numbers came racking in after the tournament had gathered steam via the title sponsors, who were ready to splash out crazy cash.
“I wouldn’t say it has surpassed my expectations, we knew it was always going to be something special. Obviously, when they threw all the numbers, and the media rights, it became a reality that it was going to be big.
"In December, when we played India, the crowd there set a precedent, there was at least 40,000 watching our match. People are really enjoying and switching on women’s cricket, WPL was the next stage. I think this tournament has been a huge success and it is only going to grow bigger.”
Batting let us down
On the elimination, Healy insisted that if she had the opportunity to go back, she would take the same decision - to bowl first. But having said that, the Australian wicket-keeper reckoned that they let the game slip in the last five overs, before the top three yet again collapsed under pressure.
“I still thought 170 odd is par, we just needed to bat very well and we didn’t do that. It is a tale of our season, losing early wickets, you can’t get any sort of momentum. They bowled really well but we didn’t execute well as a batting group. As a top three, we weren’t consistent enough in the tournament. If you want to win competitions, your top three has to be consistently good.”
Nat Sciver-Brunt stood as a big difference between the two sides, and the right-hander in the past, has been on the losing front against Healy. But this time, her 72 had Healy in applause, with the Australian praising the English all-rounder, calling her a ‘class apart’.
“She’s (Nat Sciver-Brunt) a class player, she’s the number-one all-rounder in the world. There’s no secret to why she plays good cricketing shots. I have been at the other end for a couple of her knocks, she is a classy looking batter, she doesn’t try anything outlandish, and gets the job done for the team. She stands up in the big moment, yeah, classy player,” Healy had to say on Nat.
UP are out of the competition, but for Healy and co, this was always going to be a stepping stone for the future. While opining that she would have loved to lift the trophy, the wicketkeeper batter aimed for a greater good, in building something special for the future.
“We fought really hard, and hung in there, I’m proud of those efforts. Yes, we want to win the trophy but I think, the way we have set this franchise up, we are looking to build something special in a couple of years. I’m playing a part in that, it is a side that is really promising. I’m proud of the team, and the management of what we were able to do in this WPL.”
“The youngsters have wanted to soak in all the information from the experienced coaching staff, their willingness to learn and open to feedback is great, an asset for them to have in their career.”