The ECB’s announcement yesterday of the venues for the men’s “City T20” league effectively confirms the hosts for this competition, and by implication the shape of the aligned women’s tournament which is expected to replace the Kia Super League from 2020.
The 8 venues are:
- Warwickshire/ Birmingham
Although no official announcement has been made by the ECB regarding the future of the KSL, a recent job advertisement posted on the ECB’s web site indicated that the board were “exploring launching a women’s competition running in parallel with the same format and the same team brands [as the men]” and the fact that Kia’s sponsorship of the Super League was recently renewed only until 2019 strongly suggests that the word “exploring” might be better understood in this case as “we are going to do this, whether you like it or not”!
Assuming that an aligned women’s competition is in the works, the implications will vary very much on a team-by-team basis.
The Southern Vipers and Surrey Stars will both morph almost seamlessly into the new City T20 structure – validating the investments that Hampshire and Surrey have been putting in, presumably partly on the assumption that this was exactly what would eventually happen.
Things are a little different at the two “Roses” teams, because Yorkshire and Lancashire Cricket Clubs have both been a bit more hands-off, leaving responsibility for KSL effectively sitting with the folks who run the local Boards. Traditionally, women’s county cricket has been run in the first-class counties by the amateur “Boards” responsible for recreational cricket, not the professional (men’s) “Clubs”. But nevertheless for the non-marquee players things should pretty much carry on as normal.
Where things will most definitely not “carry on as normal” is at the Western Storm. Although the Storm have built up a substantial fan-base of “Storm Troopers” who coloured Finals Day green last September, they have no obvious successor team and their players will all have to wonder where, or even if, they will be playing from 2020 – Wales might not be far from Somerset “as the x-wing flies” but it is a heck of a drive in a landspeeder!!
Things are maybe a little less dark at the Loughborough Lightning however, because of their proximity to Nottinghamshire. With the facilities available at Loughborough, it is possible that the Lightning will effectively just become the “Not-Nottinghamshire* Outlaws” and could even continue playing at Loughborough; whilst some of the fringe players at the Lightning might be excited to take advantage of the opportunities which will also open up at the Midlands’ other franchise – Warwickshire.
* The ECB have indicated that the City T20 teams will not have geographical names.
So rather than publicly uniting the ECB strategy for T20 we have to read between the lines and trawl job adverts.
The ECB needs to send a single message for the future of the game.
As I mentioned at the end of last year, as long as the young, home grown, 16-24 age range girls are given places in the new set up it “should” be good?! It will be healthy for them to identify with the city team they play for, but will players be free agents? Could a Cornwall or Hampshire player force allegiance with a northern side if she finds no place in a more local team?
We shall have to see what comes of this. First thoughts are it looks promising but the West Country has been sold short. For neither Somerset nor Gloucestershire to have a franchise is a bit of a blow. The West is a bit of a heartland for women’s cricket so it’s a shame. Instead we may have to pay to get into Wales and it’s a long trip, as you say. The Hampshire side might not need many more of Storm’s best players so I guess they’ll have to go to Cardiff. Rose Bowl and Cardiff pitches aren’t as good for batting as Taunton or Bristol, so may see more lower scores. Expanding into 8 teams is going to dilute the talent though, so it will definitely allow more young hopefuls to get a game.
For info Yorkshire Diamonds are run by Yorkshire County Cricket club not the Yorkshire cricket board.
Yes you are right – but I do think that there is a big difference to the situation at Vipers and Stars when you look at the way things work in practice and the people involved. Diamonds is Yorkshire Women “rebooted” if you like; whereas Vipers and Stars were whole new shows!