Sources close to the ECB have told CRICKETher that a radical restructuring of English women’s domestic cricket is being planned, with a new “professional” franchise-based competition likely to be introduced in 2016.
The franchises will be based at existing (Men’s) First Class county grounds, but will sit in a new tier above the existing Women’s County Championship, which will essentially become an Under-19 “feeder” league, with the leading women no longer playing county cricket beyond junior level.
It is understood that there will be fewer teams than the existing Women’s County Championship – perhaps just 6, which would mean room for only one London side – a role for which Surrey are perhaps positioning themselves, with the recent appointment of Ebony Rainford-Brent as only England’s second Director of Women’s Cricket.
The other obvious franchise candidates would be Kent, Sussex, Yorkshire, Lancashire + A.N.Othershire, with geographical logic suggesting a Birmingham-based amalgamation of Warwickshire, Notts and Staffs.
There is also expected to be significant overseas involvement. Currently, WCC teams are restricted to just one overseas player, but with Cricket Australia mooting up to three overseas for their Women’s Big Bash League, the ECB are likely to follow suit in order to provide a degree of reciprocity, with several England players hoping to compete in WBBL.