In a joint statement, Somerset County Cricket Club and Gloucestershire County Cricket Club have said that they are “100% committed to supporting Western Storm and the KIA Super League” despite the ECB announcing last week that both would be disbanded following the inauguration of “The 100” in 2020.
The clubs state:
“At this week’s meeting of CEO’s and Chairmen, we discussed the future of the women’s game at length and whilst it was decided that the new women’s competition would be aligned to the men’s, it would be so only in structure and not necessarily in geography.”
“We are all excited by the prospect of the new 100-ball tournament, despite neither Taunton or Bristol being selected as a host venue for the men’s competition, and we are delighted that both venues could very well be staging fixtures in the women’s competition.”
What does this mean in practice?
Well… the ECB’s announcement said that there will be: “aligned competitions for both men’s and women’s teams – sharing a common format, brands and identities.” So we know that there will NOT be a team called Western Storm!
But this does indeed leave space for the one of the “100” franchises to base their women’s team at Taunton and Bristol, and this possibility seems to have been dangled in front of Somerset and Gloucestershire at last week’s meetings.
Assuming there is at some minimal semblance of geographic correlation between the men’s and women’s teams, there is only one remotely plausible candidate for this – the franchise based at Cardiff. But there may be potential issues with any outcome which looks like Cardiff “offloading” their women’s team elsewhere – not least in terms of potential applications for regional government funding, which would mandate gender-equality; and of course it is not necessarily the case that they would even want to do this anyway.
Nonetheless, the press release can be read as Somerset and Gloucestershire throwing their hats into the ring to effectively be able to continue to run the Storm, albeit under a new “brand”, after 2020 as part of the “100”.
Can the KSL continue without the ECB being involved?
It is difficult to see how legally. Anyone who played would risk a ban and exile.