News broke yesterday that women’s cricket has moved one step closer to being included in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, after being officially approved by the executive board of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
The final stage is for all 71 member associations of the Federation to vote on the issue – we should know for sure either way in the next 6 weeks. However, the likelihood is that the vote will endorse the recommendation of the Federation’s executive board.
If women’s cricket is formally accepted, the format will be an 8-team T20 competition which will be staged at Edgbaston.
In some ways that is a missed opportunity for nations like Scotland, who would have been keen to feature in the tournament but presumably will miss out to higher-ranked sides.
Nonetheless, this is still a hugely exciting moment for women’s cricket. The key point is that the official broadcaster of the Commonwealth Games is the BBC. For the first time ever, an entire women’s tournament will be shown live on free-to-air in the UK.
The Hundred has been hailed as English cricket’s great opportunity to rescue itself from irrelevance, having been hidden away behind a paywall since 2005. Doubters are encouraged to appreciate the benefits that having cricket – men’s and women’s – back on free-to-air will bring.
Of course that’s great, but – crucially – the only Women’s Hundred match which the BBC have confirmed that they will be screening is the final. That’s simply not the same as having an entire tournament on free-to-air from start to finish, with viewers able to watch every single match should they choose. Narratives will form, players will rise to stardom and women’s cricket will be big news in a way that it just isn’t right now, when only Sky viewers are able to see it.
Inclusion in the Commonwealth Games has the potential to bring a raft of new casual viewers to women’s cricket, who might not be cricket fans currently but will be able to switch on their TV and see our sport nestled in amongst a whole load of others.
It’s a game-changer in so many ways – and I’m incredibly excited about it!