The past 12 months mark the pivotal point where female sport began to realise its boundless commercial possibilities

When the 24‑year‑old Satheesh Shubha set India on course for victory over England in this month’s Test match, it was the first time she had ever batted for her country. And yet Shubha was already worth more than most of the women in India’s cricketing history. Earlier in the month, Royal Challengers Bangalore had purchased her for the second season of the Women’s Indian Premier League, the tournament that changed not just women’s cricket, but the entire landscape of women’s sport.

When its 951 crore (£95.4m) rights deal was announced in January, the WIPL instantly became the second most valuable women’s sports league in the entire world. Nat Sciver-Brunt, the highest paid overseas player in the draft, received £320,000 for the three-week tournament. Alex Hartley, the former England bowler who announced her retirement in August, calls it “unheard of amounts of money”. “And as a result we’ve seen young Indian players come through who’ve done really well. When you have a high- cost competition like the WIPL, people improve quickly.”

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