The ECB’s planned overhaul of women’s county cricket, whereby from 2020 only a top tier of 8 or 10 counties will participate in the County Championship, is sparking concerns among players and coaches that it will stymie the development of the sport.
The proposals would mean the end of the careers of approximately 250 senior county players, who the ECB hope will move into the club structure from 2020.
However, the weakness of the underlying club structure in some regions of the country effectively means that some of these players may be lost to cricket for good.
One player from a Division 3 county said:
“I understand the intent, but can’t help that feel a lot of women like myself will suffer.”
“Some of us are perhaps ahead of the varying standard of women’s club cricket, and were finding our feet in Division 3 and 2. To make these feeders and have a select few ‘elite’ sides, where the net will be cast wider and subsequently, numbers harder to compete with, I fear my hopes of competing at a standard suitable for myself will dwindle.”
“I feel this is a backwards step.”
Another, responding to the proposals on Twitter, labelled the move a “massive shame”: “Been playing county senior cricket for 10 years and to see it end will be pretty rubbish”.
CRICKETher understands that the proposals were presented to those working in the current women’s set-up at four consultation meetings held around the country in 2018.
However, while these meetings presented an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposals, some working in county cricket feel their views have not been taken into account.
One county coach told CRICKETher:
“I think the narrowing of a growing market could do a lot more harm than good. It would strangle the rapid organic growth and increase in quality that we were witnessing at the coal face.”
“There is some wonderful cricket going on in Division 2 and 3. That is a result of hard work and natural growth and evolution of the women’s game that is going to be squashed.”