The women contingent of IPL 2020
Anjum Chopra and Lisa Sthalekar are part of the elite commentary team; Neroli Meadows, Kira Narayanan and Nashpreet Kaur take over anchoring duties from Mayanti Langer.
The Women’s T20 Challenge [WIPL] was inaugurated in 2018 amid little fanfare. In India, the bitter truth is female cricket is still very much neglected. A Keyword Research indicates that terms like “ipl hosts” and “ipl female anchors” get far more search volume than terms like “womens t20 challenge” or “womens t20 challenge schedule.”
Which of these phrases would you do a Google search for ?
I know your answer. That’s why I’m writing this article.
There was a sense of acceptance when the BCCI introduced a women’s commentary panel for IPL 2015. A welcome change. People who’ve seen telecasts from Sky Sports [England], Channel 9 [Australia] and Sky NZ [New Zealand] were accustomed to hearing women from behind the mic. But for most others, it was a novel idea.
Aimed at bringing diverse viewpoints from the commentators box, the move was lauded and perceived as forward-thinking.
Now we’ve reached a point where the absences of commentators like Isa Guha and Mel Jones have become conspicuous.
No Guha, Jones or Mayanti
Guha had prior commitments to fulfil after she was appointed as the lead presenter for BBC cricket earlier this year. Mel Jones, who moderated ICC’s ‘Leading the Game’ webinars, won’t be there in UAE either.
Anjum Chopra and Lisa Sthalekar are in Star Sports’ commentary panel. They sit physically distanced with Harsha Bhogle, Ian Bishop, Kevin Pietersen, sharing the commentary box with distinguished men for yet another IPL season. It’s tremendous for a country that still lags behind most treating genders equally.
Former women cricketers taking up media roles is great for the women’s game. It’s a great avenue to secure themselves financially. They can remain closer to the game and share different perspectives.
And it’s not just the location or an empty stadium that have given the IPL a different feel this time. Mayanti Langer, the famous sports journalist gave birth recently and had to give IPL 2020 a skip. She’s definitely being missed in the studios, her game insights mat ched up to that of the experts.
In this piece, let’s take a look at the opportunity seized. From Lisa Sthalekar and Anjum Chopra to Neroli Meadows and Sanjana Ganesan, here is the new crew of IPL ladies.
Anjum Chopra is the only Indian woman to be given a lifetime membership by the MCC. Over the years, the former India captain has become the voice of Indian women’s cricket. She’s the only Indian in the original quartet of female commentators. The first woman to score a 100 and play 100 ODIs for India, she was awarded the Padma Shri in 2014 for her exemplary contributions.
Born as Laila but raised as Lisa, Sthalekar became the 5th woman from Australia to be inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2020. Her Indian roots have pulled her back to the country with regularity. She shared her account of a brown girl growing up in Australia when the Black Lives Matter campaign was subject to major public outrage.
On her annual visits to India, she passes on a few tips to budding women cricketers. This year in the UAE, we’ll be fortunate to hear her wisdom on air once again.
Ganesan has been with Star Sports covering the IPL for the past three seasons. She’s also been associated with Kolkata Knight Riders and was a part of the team that covered the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
Ganesan has largely served as an understudy to Mayanti Langer. Ganesan is often seen anchoring the telecast when Indian women do get coverage for their home bilateral series.
Meadows is an Australian sports journalist who has worked with the Nine Network and Fox Sports on cricket and basketball. She travelled to the UAE to cover IPL 2020 as part of the Star Sports India team.
Meadows is seen at the grounds, moderating discussions with commentators like Kevin Pietersen, Ian Bishop and Simon Doull.
An Indo-Australian born in Fiji, Nashpreet has been a model and actor before turning to sports anchoring. She’s seen in the company of Scott Styris, Brett Lee, Irfan Pathan and fellow anchor Suhail Chandhok hosting ‘Cricket Live’ in Star Sports’ Mumbai studios.
Raised in Kuala Lumpur, Kira has also briefly been an actor before she landed gigs with Star Sports. She debuted with them for IPL 2019 was later seen on hosting Pro Kabaddi League. A return this year in a more prominent role facing the camera beckoned Kira.
Seen in the Anushka Sharma starrer NH10, Tanya Purohit works with Star Sports Hindi and was also handed the Carribean Premier League 2020 project.