OPINION: Has County Qualification Outlived Its Usefulness?

Guest writer Simon Pearson wades into the KSL-county cricket debate.

There has been much discussion recently about the future of the County Championship in the light of the KSL launch and its now-postponed extension into a 50 over format. Perhaps we should now be looking at how the County Championship needs to adapt in order to meet the demands of this new era in women’s cricket.

If the purpose of the County Championship is to act a training ground for the best and as a feeder to Team England (now maybe via the KSL) then, I would suggest, it is no longer fit for purpose.

The current County Championship regulations state that a player is eligible to play for a county if:

a) She was born within that County

b) She currently resides in that County and has been resident there for 6 months.

c) She is attending an educational establishment within that County.

Is a system which dictates that the level at which you play is decided by where you were born or live appropriate for the modern game and increasing professionalism? (Having said this, England players seem to be allowed to move about at will, which rather defeats the point of having qualification at all.)

Currently you could have good, but not quite good enough, players at a top County who can’t get a game; and poor players at a lower team who play every game, there being no-one else. On the other hand a really promising player at a lesser County does not get the chance to test themselves against comparable players, or get the support and assistance they need to reach their potential.

As I see it, abolishing qualification would allow players to find their own level and the best would rise to the top.

Some will say that the top sides will pinch the lower one’s best; but this already happens in the men’s game and few seem to object. There will also be movement in the opposite direction for those who can’t make it into the top teams. The effect would be to raise the overall standard which is surely desirable.

One additional effect would be that there would then be no need for a 50-over KSL. This seems to be an advantage: as many have said, it is difficult to see how there is room in the schedule for both the County Championship and an extension of KSL.

It seems to me, therefore, that there is no justification for continuing with County qualification, at least at senior level.

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10 thoughts on “OPINION: Has County Qualification Outlived Its Usefulness?

  1. I’m pleased you said “if” the purpose of the County Championship is to provide players for the KSL. I would suggest it is only one of its purposes and equally important is to provide cricket for many players who do not aspire to ‘higher’ things but simply to play at a level to which they are well suited.
    Many articles have been written in recent times suggesting that the drive for greater honours is all that brings players into any sport. Tournaments and leagues have to be arranged on that basis. It simply isn’t so. Many just wish to play where they neatly fit and realise that that is not in an England, or even KSL shirt.
    Participation for its own sake is frequently forgotten so I feel your “if” is well placed. I was well aware I was not an England player, a county player, or even one likely to play in the premier league (or whatever it was called in those days) but I would not have missed a single ball bat in hand, or failed to bowl an ‘offy’, taken a catch or fumbled a simple piece of fielding. I loved it all, and many women and girls do too, and they are too often forgotten in the adoration and the attention of the public and authorities for those at the ‘top’.
    Do the qualification rules need changing? I guess it depends on whether you consider the name of your county has any meaning. In the men’s game it may no longer and a few guest players or overseas players is acceptable, but if the bulk of the team does not have some county affiliation, then perhaps it shouldn’t be called county cricket. To me that would be a sad day.
    County cricket deserves more support than it is currently gets, as does club. From these sides, KSL and England payers of the future are currently honing their skills, but many girls are playing simply for the love of the sport. They should not be sidelined or forgotten.

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  2. This applies from junior through to county and at all levels opportunities are limited. Not sure if anyone has challenged these qualification rules.

    Getting the best or most appropriate cricket for a player whatever age should be a matter of choice and not restricted by archaic rules.

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  3. That is the perennial problem – getting enough cricket at the appropriate level – from club to international, how often have we seen coaches raise the issue. Because of the overall lack of playing opportunity for women we need some thinking outside the box.

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  4. In the time it has taken my eldest daughter to go through the CAG system my youngest finds herself istarting off in an era where unless you play county & boys club cricket your options and experience is severely limited!

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  5. It doesn’t really matter which county the player plays for, however, I do think that if a player play’s county cricket they must also play for a women’s club team (where there is one). There is no excuse in the SE not to play for a women’s club side.

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    • I can see where this is coming from, but it is a tough ask for someone like Carla Rudd, who has County and Super League commitments already to juggle with a full-time job.

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  6. If you get to play KSL, that is different. But there are many county players out the who just do not play womens club cricket. Is it any wonder club cricket is fading? Clubs put the effort in, coach & nurture players, they get picked for county & are not seen playing club cricket again. Why should clubs bother when they lose their best players? Why shouldn’t county players give back some of their extra experiences to clubs?

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    • It’s true that when I scored for our U15/U17s there were only two girls playing club cricket. The others never played apart from the handful of County games (it showed).
      My County has U13, U15, U17 and senior sides but there are only four clubs playing league cricket in the County (and ours has no County players at all)

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  7. Cricket takes time, most will say too much time and for teenager – studies come first in 95% of the time. So only the very keenest will double up Club and County. This has undermined Club cricket at grassroots while the pool of senior players (those not involved in County cricket) has also shrunk rapidly.

    I would suggest that Clubs nearer to Universities are the ones that have the player resources to run multiple teams and compete effectively in leagues.

    Other previous cricketing strong holds are now in a testing environment where a dated structure, economic demands and competition with other sports for the same talented sportswomen from an early age make running teams a struggle.

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  8. It seems the rules are being ignored for convenience these days anyway. My daughter lives in a 1st division county but apart from a couple of 12th man “appearances” is not yet close to selection. So for last season she was loaned out to a neighbouring lower division county where she opened the batting. Great experience & a lovely bunch of girls.

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