The ECB has told stakeholders that the new “professional” franchises, or Regional CoEs (“Centres of Excellence”) as they are currently being termed, which will replace elite county cricket from next season, will be directly aligned with the corresponding Women’s Hundred teams.
As part of the ECB’s new £20m investment in women’s and girls’ cricket, the eight new CoEs are expected to be set up by the end of October at the latest, and “paired” with a local Hundred side.
A Director of Women’s Cricket in each CoE will be ultimately responsible for overseeing the operation in each region, and will take post as soon as possible after October.
Permanent coaching and support staff will then be hired by the CoEs and it is anticipated that the paired Hundred franchise will sub-contract these same personnel to provide “year-round” continuity.
However, due to the imperative to have coaches for the Hundred in place by the end of August to facilitate player allocation, interim appointments are likely to be made before then, in order for them to take part in the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not A Draft” process, which will see two marquee England players assigned to each side.
In the draft timetable for next season, the Women’s Hundred will run from 17 July to 14 August; and the CoEs will then participate in a 50-over competition in late August and September. Interestingly, the ECB are also anticipating England playing some international matches in September, which may (or may not) impact player availability for the CoEs.