The Women’s County Championship was instituted in 1997 to replace the old Area Championship, which was played over a long weekend at Cambridge.
It’s a 3-division domestic competition, run on a similar basis to the men’s county championship. There are, though, some key differences:
The matches are all 50-over games. There is no multi-day domestic women’s cricket in England.
It isn’t professional, or even semi-professional. All players (outside of the contracted England squad and those who play in the Kia Super League) play simply for the love of the game. In most cases they are actually paying to play, because they have to fund kit and travel costs themselves.
Thought Berkshire were a Minor County? Think again! In the women’s domestic set-up they play in the main Championship. The men’s and women’s games developed separately historically; therefore counties don’t necessarily play at the same level in both games.
- The Women’s County Championship features Wales, Scotland and the Netherlands as honorary “counties”, in order to encourage the development of the sport in those nations.
It’s played over five weekends in May and June. The full schedule is here.
Division 1 – Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Yorkshire.
Division 2 – Berkshire, Devon, Durham, Essex, Middlesex, Somerset, Wales, Worcestershire.
Division 3 (Group A) – Cumbria, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northumberland, Scotland, Staffordshire.
Division 3 (Group B) – Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Netherlands, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Suffolk.
Division 3 (Group C) – Buckinghamshire, Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire.
(N.B. Division 3 is regionalised.)
Women’s county matches are rarely played at the men’s county grounds (though Kent and Surrey are both playing at least once at their men’s grounds this season, as are many of the division 3 counties). They can sometimes be held in fairly obscure places, but the pitches are generally of good quality – and you can still watch right from the boundary edge.
Again, you can find full details on the full schedule, here.
Women’s county matches are usually free to attend. The players will be paying more to play than you would to attend!
There are a maximum of 18 points available per match: 10 points for a win, and up to 8 bonus points – 4 batting and 4 bowling.
Unlike in previous seasons, the team with the most points wins the league. (Previously the league was decided by a complicated system of average points, which was designed to make the system fairer when matches were rained-off, but in reality just confused everyone!)
WHAT DO THEY WIN?
WHO GETS RELEGATED?
Usually the bottom two teams in Divisions 1 and 2 will be automatically relegated, and the top two teams in Divisions 2 and 3 promoted. However, the ECB has Big Plans for the 2020 season, so this may be subject to change!
TEAMS TO WATCH?
Kent and Sussex have traditionally been the “Big Two”, with a combined total of 13 titles between them, but in 2017 Lancashire triumphed by a whisker on the last day of the season, and the reigning champions are Hampshire. Basically, it’s all to play for in Division 1 this season!
WHAT ABOUT TWENTY20?
There is a separate women’s Twenty20 competition which is based on round-robin leagues.
The Twenty20 winners also get a cup. A different cup, though.
WHERE CAN I FIND MORE INFORMATION?
Some of the men’s county websites have information on their women’s sides, though this is a bit hit and miss! You can follow CRICKETher throughout the season, as we will feature news and match reports. Both Martin Davies and Don Miles also cover women’s county cricket on their blogs, so do check those out as well.