England bowler and South East Stars captain Tash Farrant has confirmed that she will be donning a Kent shirt again in 2021, despite what will be (Covid-permitting) a jam-packed summer.
“I absolutely love Kent,” Farrant said. “I’m still a Kent girl at heart and I’m looking forward to the Kent stuff this season.”
While the regional fixtures were announced yesterday, there remains uncertainty about the extent to which regional players will feature in the County T20 Cup. Farrant confirmed that some regions at least still see an important role for county cricket, even within the new set-up.
“Speaking for South East Stars, we have got a huge squad who are training, which is brilliant,” Farrant said. “Those county games will be where [Director of Cricket] Richard Bedbrook and [Head Coach] Johann Myburgh will be looking to see which girls perform, leading into the regional stuff and picking our XI from that.”
Assuming that government regulations allow, the T20 Cup will take place across four weekends in April and May, meaning that these fixtures will be the first chance for the Regional Directors and Regional Head Coaches to assess the match performances of key players, ahead of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Women’s Regional T20 which will begin in May / June.
With July and September set aside for internationals, and August devoted to The Hundred, the season could be a very busy one for women cricketers. Nonetheless, Farrant also confirmed that she is keen to participate in the London Championship, the 50-over competition which was set up last summer after the ECB withdrew its support for the Women’s County Championship, and involves Kent, Surrey, Essex and Middlesex.
It was confirmed earlier this week that Sussex will be joining the competition this season, which will enable the revival of the old Kent-Sussex rivalry which was such a marked feature of the Women’s County Championship over many years. However, Farrant joked that there is a new contender for main “grudge match” this season:
“I’m very excited for the Kent v Surrey match, having trained with the Surrey girls who are obviously my teammates now. That will be a really good rivalry. There’s a bit of banter already going on in the team!”
Farrant, who is currently out in New Zealand with the England squad, paid tribute to the set-up at South East Stars in enabling her to break back into the England side, two years on from losing her central contract.
“There was only so much I could do by myself, so getting that regional contract was amazing and getting the support,” she said. “I think a lot of girls will stay in the game for a long time now. Aylish Cranstone at the Stars for example has worked so hard for the last however many years and players like her really deserve the support now.”
“Having the winter training, especially the five contracted players but even the wider squads, means that the performances are going to be a whole different level just with the support that we get throughout the winter now. I think that’s going to be a big change and I think the standard is going to go up so much.”
One thing that will be crucial to that development is the shape of this season, which still depends on the efforts of the UK government to reduce Covid-19 cases enough to ease the stringent lockdown regulations currently in place. However, should all go ahead as planned this is likely to be the busiest season ever for women’s domestic cricket.
“At the moment, lots of stuff is Covid-dependent,” Farrant said. “It’s going to be the first time that there’s a really long season, where you start in April and finish at the end of September. I think that’s really exciting and I think that will show regional teams’ depth in their squads.”
“Before, there hasn’t been enough cricket to be able to show your skills for a long period of time. Now we have a lot of cricket and there will be a lot of opportunities for a lot of different girls to show what they can do. I’m looking forward to a long season with a lot of cricket.”
We couldn’t agree more!