It will be 2016 by the time that we find out who has been selected to host the six inaugural Women’s Cricket Super League sides. Yet even as we speak the bids are being mulled over and potential hosts interviewed by a panel consisting of ECB Chief Executive Tom Harrison, Director of England Women’s Cricket Clare Connor, and a mysterious third “independent” panel member.
Currently, CRICKETher are aware of the following bids:
- Middlesex and MCC
- Hampshire (supported by Sussex, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight)
- South West (Somerset CCC, Gloucestershire CCC and the University of Exeter)
Yet there is one significant omission from the list: Sussex.
For the past 15 years, since the inauguration of the women’s county championship in its current form, Sussex have been one of the leading counties in women’s cricket, with six Championship titles to their name, and most recently finishing the 2015 season as county T20 Champions.
Sussex’s success has been founded at least in part on the support that Sussex Women’s Cricket Association has received from the Board – including access to the top facilities available at Hove.
This summer, Hove staged the second Women’s Ashes Twenty20 match under lights, with a record crowd of 5,750 turning up (let’s not remind ourselves of what the crowd actually witnessed, please!)
Yet while Sussex had earlier submitted an Expression of Interest, they did not subsequently follow this through with a bid to host their own Super League side.
(While Sussex officially “support” Hampshire’s bid, as far as CRICKETher can tell their involvement should Hampshire’s bid be successful will be minimal.)
Sussex refused to comment on their reasons for deciding not to place an independent bid when approached by CRICKETher. Reading between the lines, though, it does seem to indicate a certain level of scepticism about the potential success of the Super League, not to mention the financial implications of agreeing to host a team.
Surely a county which has experienced so much success with regards to the women’s game would otherwise have been biting the ECB’s hand off?
Whether or not this scepticism is shared by other counties is difficult to say, but the fact that the ECB have refused to say exactly how many bids were eventually submitted – despite previously having been open about the number of Expressions of Interest (28) – is presumably some indication that fewer bids were received than might have been hoped for.
Clare Connor has recently said that the Super League is causing her “sleepless nights” – and this might be one of the reasons why!