Heather Knight has said that the ECB’s plans to restructure women’s domestic cricket from 2020 are “bittersweet”, given that this will likely mean the end of her team Berkshire’s chances of continuing to put out a senior county side.
Knight has represented Berkshire since 2010, moving there from Devon to advance her cricket in the top division of the Women’s County Championship, and took over the captaincy shortly afterwards. She has subsequently remained loyal to Berkshire even in the 2018 season, when they were relegated to Division 2 of the Championship.
Under the ECB’s new plans for an 8 or 10-team top flight women’s domestic set-up, Berkshire will be one of the counties which will serve as a “feeder” but will no longer field a senior women’s county side.
“I guess it’s a bit bittersweet,” said Knight. “It’s got to happen, the Hundred is going to be great for the women’s game, and if they get the set-up right it will create that safety net, because at the moment you’re into the abyss if you lose your contract.”
“I’m sure Berkshire will be involved as some sort of feeder for one of those hubs, whatever it might look like, and be involved in the youth development. It’s what’s needed to move the game forwards in this country.”
Plans for the new set-up are still being finalised but the aim is to bring in a semi-professional structure by 2020, in order to ensure there is some fallback for players like Tash Farrant and Beth Langston when they lose their England contract.
How will a feeder county be motivated to spend a significant amount of money to develop players? The CAGs structure is great but it has always been driven by a volunteer force, above that county structures have been given variable support in terms of county money / resources.
Again if you drop the feeder counties where are the senior ladies sides to take up the slack?
The KSL was a great idea waiting to expand, now it feels like the game is taking steps back not forward.