OPINION: Kia Super League – Credit Where It’s Due

Lizzy Ammon has a piece in today’s Times headlined: “New era for women’s game begins but stars are paid only £20 a day”. [Link (£)]

The piece raises a number of questions about the Kia Super League, arguing that “the competition is facing the challenge of poorly paid players, low attendances and no TV deal.”

These are certainly legitimate issues to  raise, but they also ignore the other side of the story.

Take the issue of money: it is quite true that there isn’t much of it – no one is going to be dashing off to their Ferrari dealer with their KSL pay cheque, that’s for sure! But £150 is £150 more than anyone gets for playing in the Women’s County Championship; and for players like Katie Levick and Daisy Gardner, this is the first time they have ever been paid at all, for something that they basically consider a hobby!

As for low attendances, we will have to wait and see exactly what transpires, but I’d be happy to bet that even the lowest KSL crowd will dwarf the numbers we usually see for the County Champs, where beyond friends and family, you can usually count the crowd on the fingers of one hand.

And the TV… well yes, that is disappointing; especially if it really was the case that Sky were “concerned about the quality of the cricket”, because that is the one thing which they really don’t need to be worried about – KSL has the stars to ensure the cricket is going to be amazing. But again, the County Championship has never been broadcast, so we haven’t lost anything by the lack of a TV deal, we are just exactly where we have always been!

Do we wish it was on TV, drawing big crowds, and paying the players a bit more? Absolutely! So do the players. (So do the ECB, believe it or not.)

And we do understand that the KSL all looks pretty small potatoes when seen through the prism of even the men’s county game, let alone something like the IPL.

But would we rather be here with “something”, or back where we were a year ago with “nothing”? Looked at from that perspective, the real story of the KSL is one of remarkable progress in a very short space of time; and for that, the ECB deserve credit where it’s due.

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6 thoughts on “OPINION: Kia Super League – Credit Where It’s Due

  1. It’s all unknown so we will have to see how it goes. I would think the measure of success depends on what you see as the purpose of it.
    If it is primarily to bridge the gap then the lack of tv is not relevant, funding is though. If the funds and support are not there to enable those outside the contracted group to get a similar level of training etc then how can it work?, it will simply emphasise the gap we already know is there (assuming those players even get to play).
    If it is to get more people into the game then no tv is a blow – although I can understand the concerns given the slating women’s test cricket got last year. But if we see an influx of new players is there the structure in place to deal with it?

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  2. I hope the tournament is a huge success, but there has been a striking difference between Cricket Australia’s promotion of the WBBL and the ECB’s promotion of the KSL:

    Cricket Australia: “We’re going to hold a women’s BBL, it’s going to be great, you’re going to love it, and to prove how much we back it, we’re going to pay for some games to be on TV”. Result: greater than expected crowds and audiences and broadcasters voluntarily showing more games.

    ECB: “We’re going to hold a hosted – not franchised, we deny that completely – women’s T20 competition. But it will be really low-profile – we’ll schedule it against a bunch of other big sporting events, and we certainly aren’t going to pay to put it on TV. You’ll hardly notice it, honest!” Result: well, I hope the competition will be a big success, because the players and the game deserve it. But it’s hard not to detect ambivalence in the ECB’s stance.

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    • Why should we automatically do what Australia do? Whatever the gender, it seems that we’re actually afraid of doing things our way. I sit there and wince watching the BBL. Seeing kids sat there holding tablets which they can’t see because there’s a fried chicken bucket on their head represents the lowest form of commercial cricket going to me.

      I don’t think the ECB has been any more ambivalent to the KSL than it has been to the County Championship. Pretty much when it comes to the ECB, if it’s not to do with England, they’re not that interested.

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  3. When tickets are close to free, going on attendance alone is a mistake to my mind. I wonder if anyone would dare put up the gate receipts of each game?

    I have some major reservations over statements like this:

    “And the TV… well yes, that is disappointing; especially if it really was the case that Sky were “concerned about the quality of the cricket”, because that is the one thing which they really don’t need to be worried about – KSL has the stars to ensure the cricket is going to be amazing.”

    Replace ‘KSL’ with ‘Stanford Super Series’ and you’d be rolling in the aisles. Having great names is no guarantee of excellence of event. This is true from the days of the Galacticos right to Stanford again, an event where even the presence of the self-appointed king of slap and tickle cricket couldn’t transform what was a tawdry affair. When the opening three KSL games have produced a solitary innings that has made three figures, that pronouncement looks a tad premature.

    Now I’m sure you might want to say I am King Grumpy tonight, determined to squash the KSL. Not so: I’m a paying customer who will be there at the Bristol game but who doesn’t believe in unnecessary hype. The KSL is a step into the unknown. Mistakes will be made, better ways of working found out (one obvious one is advertising: local buses and billboards have regularly had Gloucestershire’s T20 campaign beaming down on the local population: absolutely naff all has been seen for any other form of cricket. Ironically, it’s one aspect of the County Championship that has been sadly replicated: rubbish publicity compared to men’s T20).

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    • To be fair, both the Vipers and the Storm were going at a rate which would have taken them well over 100. Of the two games we saw, Saturday’s was certainly the better – the Diamonds were beaten by the Lightning whereas the Stars kinda beat themselves to an extent.

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