ECB Chief Executive Tom Harrison has pledged his support for women’s Test cricket, stating that he sees it as “a key part of Ashes series” and that the ECB are keen to work to fit the multi-day format “into something that builds a narrative for the women’s game internationally”.
Speaking to promote the ECB’s Women’s Big Cricket Month, Harrison said:
“At the moment [women’s Test cricket] is a key part of Ashes series, and we’re trying to work out what is the right balance for international women’s Test cricket.”
“I think if you asked that question now you wouldn’t have too many international teams putting up their hands and saying ‘this makes sense for us’.”
“It certainly does for us, it certainly does for Australia. Outside of that, we’ve got to do a lot of work to work out how that fits into something that builds a narrative for the women’s game internationally.”
With Acting Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley having expressed his own support for more women’s Test cricket, Harrison said he would shortly be having a conversation with Hockley about the possibility of extending the next Women’s Ashes series – due to be played in Australia in 2022 – to incorporate two Test matches.
“If it’s something that both boards and both sets of fans want and demand, then it’s something we can look at,” he said. “I’m sure it will come up in our next conversation.”
Harrison was also keen to emphasise that discussions around Test cricket should be player-led, saying that the current group of England players “feel very passionately about playing Test cricket”. “We need to do a lot of work on listening to players,” he said.
However, he acknowledged that Test cricket represents a commercial challenge, saying that “it will be difficult to find the commercial support for [more] Test cricket”.
More broadly with regard to the future commercial direction of women’s cricket, he said that it was important to “enable women’s events to stand on their own” and to generate separate revenue for the women’s game:
“The next important staging post from an ICC perspective is all about the next media rights process, where we will need to generate revenue for the women’s game from the women’s events. instead of it just being part of a global set of events that are sold for a couple of billion dollars globally,” he said.
“We need to absolutely ringfence at ICC level the ability for that revenue to go into generating excitement around the women’s game specifically. And I think that starts to send the expectation to investors that what we want to see is proper investment into creating conditions under which the women’s game can grow.”