The 2022 domestic regional season is set to end on a high note, with the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy Final being played at the Home of Cricket – Lord’s – on Sunday 25th September.
Additionally, the Charlotte Edwards Cup will include a number of Double-Header matches with the men’s Vitality Blast, clustered around the double-Bank Holiday weekend and half-term week at the end of May. At least one of these CE Cup matches will be televised, and one (possibly the same one) will also be an evening fixture under lights.
Alan Fordham, Head of Cricket Operations at the ECB, said:
“The rationale for having double-headers are twofold: one to make an event, a number of them are at the beginning of June which is half-term week when we’ve got the double Bank Holiday, so an opportunity to attract some support when spectators might be more able to attend. And it’s also an efficient way to be staging matches, because we want them staged if we can at our most prestigious venues… putting the women’s game on an equal platform.”
Presumably the success of The Hundred, which achieved record-breaking crowds last summer, was also a factor.
The format of the RHF Trophy is unchanged for 2022, with a round-robin group stage where everyone plays everyone else, with the table leader going straight through to the Lord’s final, to be joined by the winner of a play-off between the second and third-placed sides.
The season will begin with the T20 Charlotte Edwards Cup, with also essentially the same format as last year – two groups, with a 3-team Finals Day at the County Ground, Northampton on Saturday 11th June.
The group names are “TBC” but the groups themselves are: Vipers, Thunder, Lightning, and Diamonds in one group; and Sparks, Storm, Sunrisers, and Stars in the other.
Following the CE Cup, the regional teams will embark on their RHF campaigns from 2nd July. Although the schedule for The Hundred has not officially been announced, the RHF will take a break between 24th July and 9th September. With the Commonwealth Games taking place from 28th July to 8th August, we can assume that The Hundred will then take place during the 4-week window after that, with the final likely on the weekend of 3rd/4th September.
There is no confirmation yet of the dates of the England fixtures (aside from the Commonwealth Games), so the extent to which the England players will be involved in regional cricket is still unknown. For the RHF, much will depend on whether the ECB intend to schedule a series in September as they did in 2021, or whether they will feel that is one bridge too far in what is going to be another exhausting season.