OPINION: Question Marks Over Super League As Sussex Fail To Bid

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
  • Lancashire
  • Hampshire (supported by Sussex, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight)
  • South West (Somerset CCC, Gloucestershire CCC and the University of Exeter)
  • Surrey

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!

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7 thoughts on “OPINION: Question Marks Over Super League As Sussex Fail To Bid

  1. Sorry…what are the facts in this article? Seems to be a lot of speculation. This is now a commercial process and it is right that ECB retain a professional approach and maintain confidentiality about who has submitted a final bid.

    WCSL is new and it will take time to come to fruition…phase 1 is a 4 year process…won’t happen overnight!!

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  2. Dear Anonymous. We don’t need many new facts to surmise that the whole thing is rapidly unravelling. The entire point of announcing 6 host places for the final determination of bids was that it was presumed more that 6 bids would be received. The fewer bids/hosts there are, the more pointless the selection process becomes.

    Therefore the omission of Sussex IS a huge problem. If only 5 (or 6) bids are received, all must be accepted no matter how good they are. The ECB might as well have just have said it will be Middlesex, Surrey, Lancs, South/West and 2 others from the start, and just invited bids for the 2 others.

    This is further indication that we have more problems over here with the perception of women’s cricket compared to other countries like Australia. Aussie men are hardly known for their endorsement of feminism, and yet when I see tweets like this

    “Cricket Analysis @cricketanal
    After the launch of #WBBL01 we run the numbers on the % chance of the Eng version being run without sexist articles being written – its 0%”

    I just think “Yep”. There is a lot of opposition to the idea of a women’s competition on something of a par to the men’s, so don’t make out that there isn’t. You only need to look at Internet commets on any women’s cricket articles to get an idea of the poisonous philosophies people like to keep. Mail / Sun and their legions of standards-police male journalists will take the mickey or worse, and I’ll eat my hat if they don’t. The problem is endemic.

    I can’t help thinking Connor bit off more than she can chew with WCSL…it may be few years too early. Problems with things that are still a few years away is that, like Cold Fusion, come back in a few years and they are still in the same position… a few years away.

    I hope I’m wrong about all this and that it does kick off in style next year. But there is a risk that either it will be delayed for another year or will have reduced size, scope and player payments compared to what we were initially led to believe. Maybe that will be good for the game in the long run, but in the short term it will be embarrassing.

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  3. I think there was always going to be question marks over the WCSL – it was just a matter of how many. Trying to kick off a brand (which is really what each team will be) from zero is seriously hard work – much harder than in Aus where each brand (team) has a male and female component. It takes time – which is why year 1 won’t perhaps be the best barometer of success.
    If the absence of Sussex (as a sole bidder) is worthy of note then perhaps multi-times champions Kent’s absence should also be noted.
    Another notable absence should be Essex. In Chlemsford they have the perfect ground and population on which to base a team.

    Credit to Connor for having the balls to try to get the WCSL off the ground. I’d have sleepless nights if I was her but she can always say she tried even if it doesn’t take off.

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  4. Firstly I can’t help but think that the panel should be completely independent or at least have a majority of members who could not be judged conflicted. But it sounds like the panel will only be able to rubber stamp the applications and not have to judge between them.

    I reckon the ECB will leave the door open to expansion. Sussex already have the most significant investment in Womens and Girls cricket. Kent have the history but not the investment capacity it would seem.

    Whatever the early trials and tribulations the launch is key and the whole process will give an insight into the capacity for growth of the game we love as a standalone event (whatever the trolls may have to say). If it can happen in women’s football it can and should happen in cricket.

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  5. I thought the reasons for no Sussex bid were that Hampshire, Middlesex and Surrey can all offer a Test ground and they would be behind these hosts in the pecking order for that reason? Incidentaly, Cheshire are supporting the Lancs bid, largely doing the grassroots development work on their behalf

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  6. If they are giving preference to Test grounds then they have set their aspirations ludicrously high. Hove and Chelmsford, by way of example, would be much better (IMHO) then a Test ground (granted ‘Mancunian Roar’ are presumably proposing Old Trafford and ‘MCC Meteors’ are presumably proposing Lords – both which look a bit empty even with 1500 spectators).
    I think it’ll be Surrey Strikers (along with Western Fury in the south west and Southern Stars in Hampshire).

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  7. If the Test ground suggestion is true I would suggest that this is another example of cash strapped counties subsidising their ground costs rather than develop out grounds.

    Just look at women’s football the use of smaller grounds even by mainstream teams gives an atmosphere more akin to the grassroots of the game.

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