This article was first written for and published by The Roar.
Winter may be fast approaching, but this week there have been plenty of exciting announcements made in the cricket space which have made me feel like summer is right around the corner.
Let’s head straight to India, where next week Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy, Megan Schutt and Beth Mooney will join a cast of international superstars in a one-off women’s Indian Premier League exhibition match.
Eight internationals, including these four Aussies, will join players from India to play in two XIs captained by Indian players Harmanpreet Kaur and Smriti Mandhana.
For the eight selected, it will be a reunion of sorts, with most having had the opportunity to play in the WBBL. Harmanpreet may be a familiar name, having played for the Sydney Thunder in the last two instalments of the competition.
Joining Ellyse, Alyssa, Megan and Beth will be Danielle Wyatt and Danielle Hazell from England, as well as Suzie Bates and Sophie Devine from New Zealand.
This game will be played ahead of the first IPL qualifier at Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday and, interestingly, the squads follow the same format as the IPL – there will be seven Indian players complemented by four overseas players.
India has been a happy hunting ground for the Australian team, particularly on their tour there this year – winning the ODIs in a whitewash, then continuing to win the T20 tri-series convincingly, with Megan becoming the first Australian in history to take an international T20 hattrick, and Alyssa scoring her first international century.
This game could perhaps be a teaser for a potential women’s IPL, which the Board of Control for Cricket in India is hoping to introduce in the next two to three years.
Should such a competition be introduced, this would mean that many female players around the world would have the opportunity to play in the WBBL, the England Super League and also the IPL.
It’s been really positive to see the women’s game continue to go from strength to strength, particularly after India’s successful involvement in the World Cup last year.
I’m sure, after having the opportunity to watch these international women next week, the Australian quartet will leave the sub-continent with plenty more fans.
After that game, the Aussies will come together in Brisbane for a camp at the end of May, as they begin their preparations for next summer, which begins with a T20 and ODI series against New Zealand, before an away tour against Pakistan in October and then November’s World T20 in the Caribbean.
Speaking of summer, it’s going to sound a little different this year, with Fox Sports set to make announcements about who will be part of their commentary team for their new-look cricket coverage. There’s also real diversity in this team, with a mix of players and experts, men and women, and people from a variety of nations.
It was announced this week that the team will include Mark Waugh, Mel Jones, Mike Hussey, Isa Guha and Michael Vaughan, who will join Adam Gilchrist, Allan Border and Brendan Julian.
I’m particularly thrilled that Mel will join the team. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her commentary both on the WBBL and the BBL throughout the summer, as a wonderful example of a deserving woman who has the talent to be a commentator.
Finally, because good news comes in three, I wanted to welcome back Ashleigh Gardner to the NSW Breakers after spending last season in South Australia with the Scorpions.
Ashleigh was named in the 19-woman squad, which includes five players from the Australian team, four members of the National Performance Squad, four Shooting Stars and three Australian Under-19 players.
Summer is coming.