More details are coming to light regarding the ECB’s proposed restructure of women’s county cricket from 2020.
CRICKETher understands that the top 10 counties will be decided by a bidding process, whereby counties will put forward expressions of interest and the ECB will then grant hosting rights to the strongest proposals.
The top counties will be supported by 10 Academy “hubs”, and will play in a one-division Championship, while the old Division 2 and 3 counties will simply serve as “feeders”, developing age-group players who will then join their closest county side.
Revenue from the ECB’s new TV deal will be used to enable the top 10 counties to offer professionally staffed set-ups. Players will also be remunerated, though this will likely fall short of fully professional pay, at least initially.
While the bidding process is ostensibly an open one, it seems logistically unlikely that the 8 “Hundred” counties will not feature in the new Championship – not least because this will limit the amount of travelling which the top women’s players will need to do.
CRICKETher understands that Sussex are confident they will be one of the selected counties, given their extensive facilities at the Aldridge Cricket Academy funded by millionaire Sir Rod Aldridge, which leaves just one spot in the top flight remaining.
The traditional prominence of the southern counties in the women’s game means that large areas of England are likely to be unrepresented in the new Women’s County Championship.
Current players who represent the counties which are not successful in the bidding process will be encouraged to play club cricket as an alternative.
But what about Surrey? And Graves’ alleged vendetta against them?
I wonder what those at Kent will feel like……? Not even on the map! The deferral to club cricket is a rather large smack in the mouth.
Interesting times ahead. Will those with big money, namely the likes of Yorkshire and Lancashire, rule the planning roost?
Will past achievements and successes on the County Championship be disregarded?
What about Somerset??
If anyone has seen what a similar process did to some women’s premiership rugby clubs then beware. Lichfield denied entry. Worcester and Richmond absolutely butchered of their top players, which, in the case of Worcester (no wins in 34 matches) has reduced them to fodder. All 3 were top class clubs. One can be certain, like with rugby, the whole process will secretive.
Surely the question is “What makes the strongest proposal?” What are the criteria by which any proposal is being judged?
All unknowns at the moment, I see a bit of “behind closed doors” on the proposal horizon!
This idea will kill women’s cricket for the majority in this country. Unless you are one of the elite, there will be nowhere for players to prove themselves. Gone will be the chance to represent your own county with pride,which so many do, and once again, only the top talents will get the games. Participants will drop from around 600 to about 150 and those with real love for cricket but perhaps not the highest level of ability will be forced away from the game. Getting rid of County cricket will be the death of the game because so many girls will just give up!
I accept that the only way to professionalism county cricket is to cut the number of teams, but why not have a “minor counties” style competition below it. Restricting the feeder teams to age group only is a real kick in the teeth for some of those players playing for unfashionable counties. Club cricket is no where near robust enough to act as viable alternative where many clubs have a single team with some very good players mixed in with some weaker players who are still learning their craft unlike the mens game were many clubs have 3 or 4 teams. Also I would be very surprised if the club circuit* is properly talent scouted which will likely just be a wilderness as many of the good players will just jack it in and focus on hockey instead.
A cricketing pathway should be a pyramid with a broad base, from 2020 you will have a tower with a bunch of holes in it where all the twenty/thirty year old cricketers used to be.
*Womens and mens club cricket, as there are plenty of women who play mens cricket just so they get a consistent standard of cricket.
Very well said, Jaffa and I agree totally with your comments. My daughter lives for cricket and is immensely proud to represent her county but, unfortunately, she is deemed not quite good enough for the elite game. She, like many others in her situation, doesn’t get challenged at club level and consistently scores big runs but it is ‘soft’ cricket, which she was told by her EPP coach, and many other top coaches, to avoid! AS you say, there should be a Minor Counties level as an interim step before the Elite section. Whoever came up with this idea either has a daughter, who is very good, or doesn’t have a daughter at all. There will be 75% fewer players if this goes ahead and eventually that will affect the top level.
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