In her interview with TMS on Saturday at Worcester, the ECB’s Director of Women’s Cricket Clare Connor addressed concerns about the future of domestic T20 cricket when the Kia Super League ends and is replaced by The 100, pledging to deliver a new “equally worthwhile” T20 tournament in its place.
She also made a personal commitment to working towards full professionalism, acknowledging that this had to be more than the few-thousand pounds players outside the fully contracted England elite currently make from the game.
The long-term intent is the right one – we need an elite T20 competition which involves the England contracted players. To quote England captain Heather Knight:
“Obviously Twenty20 international cricket is huge in the women’s game, so we need to make sure that from 2020 the structure below the new competition is right.”
But unfortunately there is a problem…
The KSL ends in 2019, and Connor doesn’t see full professionalism until at least 2024; but without full professionalism you can’t have a T20 competition which involves the England players!
Why? Well, oddly, it isn’t the England players who are the problem, but the amateurs who (without full professionalism) will make up the majority of the squads in The 100.
You see, the amateurs are… well… amateur – they have other jobs! And whilst it might be feasible to take 6 weeks of unpaid leave to play in The 100, for which (during those 6 weeks at least) they will be well-remunerated, taking another 4 weeks to play in the new T20 as well just isn’t going to fly with most employers.
This means the new T20 is initially going to have to be played at weekends… and not during The 100 in July/ August, obviously… and not during the international window in June/ July, or the England players would not get any domestic T20… and not during the County Championship window, which is currently May/ early June.
So when are they going to play it?
It’s almost like no one thought about the implications of this before they irrevocably committed themselves to the policy! (Remind you of anything?)
Of course, there is an easy way to solve this problem: make The 100 a T20 tournament for the women. You can still have the same teams; you can still call it “The 100” – just make 120 balls rather than 100 – then you don’t have to play an additional T20 tourny!
But something tells me that would be far too much like having your cake and eating it… and no one wants that!