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The WPL and the growth of women’s cricket

After the inaugural WPL auction in 2023, Australian cricketer Megan Schutt wrote in the Guardian: “The overriding feeling was one of excitement. To play professionally we need to be paid professionally”.

That was after the Royal Challengers Bangalore bid INR 40 lakh to secure her services for the first edition of the WPL. At the time, that converted to approximately USD 49,000.

Just like in the IPL (the men’s counterpart), all of that money goes to the player and in return they feature in the month long tournament.

Franchise cricket has heralded in a new era of opportunity for women cricketers.

Each team is only allowed to draft six overseas players, the rest of the team is made up of Indian players. This means that only 30 overseas players can be chosen for the WPL.

In the inaugural 2023 auction, Australians dominated the overseas players. The 14 players drafted made up 46.7% of overseas players in the first edition, while England made up 23.3%.

In the 2024 auction, there was not the same level of investment into new players as many of those from the 2023 auction were retained for their 2023 auction price.

There is no doubt about the positive impact that franchises such as the WPL are having on women’s cricket.

Josh Poysden is an ex-professional cricketer who is now working in talent management. The agency he works for look after Issy Wong, Lauren Bell, Kim Garth and Dani Wyatt who are all playing in the WPL.

On the franchise, he said: “One thing I’d definitely say is that it’s having a really positive impact on the women’s game.

“It helps the players have an extra competition that’s really high profile.

“If you do well there is a really high reward to strive for and it’s certainly going to motivate young players to become better cricketers and put themselves in the shop window to go and play in the WPL as well as wanting to play international cricket, the Hundred and regional cricket.”

English players drafted into the WPL

Player Auction Price (USD) Team Year Drafted
Nat Sciver-Brunt 400,000 Mumbai Indians 2023
Sophie Ecclestone 230,000 UP Warriorz 2023
Alice Capsey 94,000 Delhi Capitals 2023
Sophie Dunkley 75,000 Gujarat Giants 2023
Heather Knight 50,000 Royal Challengers Bangalore 2023
Issy Wong 38,000 Mumbai Indians 2023
Lauren Bell 38,000 UP Warriorz 2023
Kate Cross 38,000 Royal Challengers Bangalore 2024
Dani Wyatt 38,000 UP Warriorz 2024

The WPL has helped drive up the contracts in the other forms of professional women’s cricket. In the last four years alone, the top band in the Hundred has risen from 15k to 50k.

ECB Central Contracts have also increased massively for England players.

Speaking on the Sky Sports Podcast after the 2024 WPL auction, when she was drafted for £30,000, Kate Cross said: “It’s sums of money that we’ve never heard of in women’s cricket and it’s going to do so much.”

On the same podcast, Dani Wyatt said: “We have a laugh with the youngsters, saying you’re so lucky we never had this when we were your age.”

On the impact of being drafted Josh said: “I think you’ve got to look at the bigger picture. The WPL is a share of their income they’re getting in the year from their England contract and their Hundred contract.

“If you use Dani Wyatt as an example, she’ll be earning more from the Hundred than the WPL. It’ll be different for a player like Annabel Sutherland, because she went for a lot of money that is obviously quite a bit more life changing.

“The thing about the WPL and the IPL is that there’s quite a big range between the highest paid players and the lowest paid players.”

Embed from Getty Images

Annabel Sutherland was the most expensive draft pick of the 2024 WPL auction at USD 250,000.

The pool of talent in the women’s game does not have the same depth as the men’s, so generally the players who are drafted in the WPL from overseas are the best players in the world.

In the IPL, it is slightly different as there are so many talented regional Indian players, the overseas players drafted are often specialists in positions that are left over. For example, Adil Rashid, one of England’s best short format spinners in the last decade, was never drafted in the IPL because India have produced an abundance of leg spinners.

For those that do miss out, it can be hard. Especially for those coming to the end of their career at a time when there has been a huge increase in their potential earnings.

Nick Friend is a journalist at the Cricketer, he explained that: “I spoke to Amy Jones who told me that she wasn’t surprised to miss out but she was surprised about the effect that it had on the other players.

“By all accounts in 2023, the likes of Katherine Sciver-Brunt and Dani Wyatt really struggled with it. It was Katherine’s last year as a pro, she had been playing since 2005, so she essentially played as much of her international career as an amateur as she did a professional, and in that time she was one of the best players in the world.

“Then when the WPL finally comes she doesn’t get drafted. She has done all of the leg work for it to be in that position but she is the one missing out.”

After the 2023 WPL auction, Dani Wyatt tweeted on X that she was “heartbroken” to have missed out on being drafted.

On whether some players earning much more than others creates a divide between players, Josh said: “I don’t think it necessarily creates a divide, it’s professional sport everyone gets paid different amounts, it’s normal.

“The thing that’s hard is everyone knows what the players are being paid, so that is a bit of a different dynamic.

“But in general, you’re always going to be comparing yourself to your peers on what you’re getting paid so naturally there’s going to be pros and cons with that, but I don’t think personally that’s a huge problem.”


  • Michael Thomas

    Sports writer, cricket fan (emphasis on fan, not expert) and self-pitying West Bromwich Albion supporter. Always open to researching and writing about different topics.