Men only? Not any more as women flock to IPL

NEW DELHI: As women flock to the stands and take prominent positions in commentary boxes and boardrooms, cricket’s richest Twenty20 league is no longer solely a man’s world.

The days of male-dominated crowds spending as much time ogling cheerleaders on the boundary as taking in action in the middle have been consigned to the past as the 2016 edition of the Indian Premier League reaches a climax with Sunday’s final.

“This perception of women not being cricket-savvy is so passe,” said Reena Verma as she took her seat for a recent match between the Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian capital.

“I know where a gully or point is. I can also tell the difference between a leg-spinner and a chinaman,” said the part-time teacher, illustrating her knowledge of cricket’s idiosyncratic jargon to describe fielding positions and bowling styles respectively.

Verma is one of a growing number of female fans either buying tickets to India’s glitzy Twenty20 tournament or watching on television where the voices of women commentators are increasingly being heard alongside their male counterparts.

Former India women’s captain Anjum Chopra, ex-England seamer Isa Guha and the Australians Lisa Sthalekar and Melanie Jones have been regulars in this year’s IPL commentary booths, sidelining male veterans of cricket broadcasting such as Harsha Bhogle.

The commentators are part of an IPL strategy to attract more women, with the aim of increasing ticket sales, domestic television viewing ratings home and overall revenues.

“We want families to come, we want women and girls to come, it’s not the usual cricket fan that we are trying to connect with,” an IPL official told AFP on condition of anonymity. -APP