England’s women cricketers are currently caught in a dilemma as they face a clash between the Women’s Premier League (WPL) in India and a bilateral T20I series in New Zealand. The final stages of the WPL are set to coincide with the start of the T20I series in New Zealand, posing a tough decision for the players who are scheduled to participate in both events.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) recently confirmed that the WPL final is scheduled to take place on March 17 in Delhi, while the first T20I of the series in New Zealand is scheduled for March 19 in Dunedin. This scheduling conflict has left the players with a difficult choice, as it would be logistically impossible for them to participate in both events.
According to sources, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has informed the players involved in the WPL that opting to stay in India until the completion of the tournament would result in their exclusion from the first three T20Is in New Zealand. With the squads for the New Zealand tour expected to be announced soon, the players are facing pressure to make a decision regarding their availability.
Seven England players are slated to participate in the WPL: Alice Capsey (Delhi Capitals), Issy Wong, Nat Sciver-Brunt (Mumbai Indians), Kate Cross, Heather Knight (Royal Challengers Bangalore), Sophie Ecclestone, and Danni Wyatt (UP Warriorz). The players have diverse considerations to weigh, including their respective salaries in the WPL, their roles in both their franchises and the national team, and their aspirations for future selections.
The situation has been further complicated by the recent increase in match fees for England women’s players, bringing them in line with their male counterparts. Additionally, with the T20 World Cup scheduled to take place in Bangladesh later in the year, players are mindful of the need to balance their commitments to both club and country.
England captain Heather Knight is believed to have expressed her desire to be available for the entire New Zealand tour, indicating her commitment to representing her country in the upcoming series. However, other players are facing a tough decision as they evaluate their options and weigh the potential impact on their careers.
In a related development, Lauren Bell, who was set to play for UP Warriorz, withdrew from the WPL to prioritize her preparations for the New Zealand tour. Her decision allowed the franchise to sign Sri Lanka’s Chamari Athapaththu as a replacement, in accordance with the WPL regulations.
The ECB’s stance on player availability has been firm in the past, as seen in the case of Bess Heath and Danielle Gibson missing the WBBL final to join the England squad. This contrasts with New Zealand Cricket’s decision to allow Amelia Kerr to miss a T20I against Pakistan to participate in the WBBL final. Kerr, along with Sophie Devine, is one of the two New Zealand players involved in this year’s WPL.
The players facing this dilemma are navigating a complex situation that requires them to consider multiple factors before making a decision. With the ECB expected to announce the squads for the New Zealand tour soon, the players will need to make a choice that balances their personal interests with their commitments to both club and country.
The upcoming weeks are crucial for the players as they weigh their options and prepare to make a decision that could have a significant impact on their careers. As the cricketing world awaits the outcome of this dilemma, it remains to be seen how the players will navigate this challenging situation and manage their commitments to both the WPL and the New Zealand T20I series.