With the inaugural Women’s U19 World Cup just weeks away, CRICKETher has learned of severe disparities in the treatment of the England Women’s and Men’s U19 squads over the winter.
The England Men’s U19s have just returned from two weeks together doing “warm weather” training in Abu Dhabi. In the new year they will travel to Australia for a month-long tour, playing Australia Men’s U19s in two Youth Tests, three Youth ODIs and one Youth IT20.
By contrast, the England Women’s U19 squad have spent the entire winter at Loughborough training indoors, with “warm weather” opportunities ahead of the World Cup quite literally non-existent.
In a recent piece on the ECB’s own website, new Men’s U19 Head Coach Michael Yardy says: “At this level it’s really important that we’re able to offer a range of experiences that can add value to a young player’s development.“
It begs the question – why deny those experiences to a group of young women of the same age? Are they somehow less worthy of having their development enhanced?
It makes even less sense given that the women will have had far less opportunities so far in their careers than their male counterparts, who are almost all embedded in professional county structures by the time they are selected for the Young Lions. In addition, the U19 women are about to compete in a World Cup against sides who have been playing competitive cricket throughout the English winter.
If budgets were a concern, the money being spent on sending the men to Abu Dhabi presumably could have been split between the two squads and used to send both sides “short-haul” for warm weather training.
Can there really be any excuse for such enormous disparity in the treatment of the two junior set-ups?