At the launch event for the (Men’s) County Championship at Merchant Taylors School last week, Clare Connor stood on stage alongside the bigwigs of the men’s game to celebrate the inclusion of a fourth “major” trophy into the pantheon of English domestic cricket – alongside the (Men’s) County Championship, the (Men’s) One Day Cup and the (Men’s) T20 Blast, we now have the Women’s Kia Super League.
“It’s a visual reminder for the game that we now have four major trophies on offer in our domestic season.”
The following day, Scyld Berry reported to readers of the Telegraph:
“Clare Connor, the ECB’s director of women’s cricket, made the point that counties had ceased to produce a good national women’s team and had to be replaced by franchises.”
Well, no – we can assure you that on Sunday 30th April, players from Berkshire to Yorkshire, and all manner of shires in-between, will walk out onto the fields of England to embark upon the chase for the Women’s County Championship of 2017.
To be fair to Scyld Berry, he was only reporting what he heard… and to be equally fair to Clare Connor, we don’t doubt that what he heard probably wasn’t quite what she said.
But the impression is clear enough – as far as the ECB are concerned, the Women’s County Championship occupies the status of Mrs Rochester to the KSL’s Jane Eyre, and we all remember what happened to Mrs Rochester… right? (TLDR: madness, fire, suicide, blar, blar, blar.)
As if to emphasise the point, at the end of last week, the ECB sent out a press release detailing the international player rosters for KSL2, which (lest we forget) doesn’t even start until after the World Cup, in which the only mention of the word “county” was to confirm that Finals Day will be held at the “Central County Ground” in Hove.
But the fact of the matter is that it is county cricket, with the Women’s County Championship at its heart, which remains the bedrock of the elite women’s game in this country – Div 1 offering 3,920 overs of cricket (including the T2o Cup) compared to the KSL’s 680 overs. We should be shouting from the rooftops… not jumping from them! [Okay… that’s enough Jane Eyre references – Ed.]
But perhaps the real lesson here, however, isn’t for us at all – it is for the fans of the men’s game, who are being told that the coming City T20, designed around the same franchise model as the KSL, won’t downgrade the status of their County Championship.
We were told that too.