Women's Cricket

In each of our regular New Bulletins Raf Nicholson writes her observations on promoting women's cricket. You can read the latest edition below.

September 2020

It was the first county fixture to be played this year (men’s or women’s), and while the players were clearly rusty, there was also a sense of shared joy to be back out there: a couple of months ago I think we all feared that we might go an entire season with no cricket at all. There were also 1000+ people watching at home on Surrey’s multi-camera live stream, which just goes to show the current pent-up appetite for live county cricket.

Surrey were rewarded for their efforts in arranging the fixture by their first win in six years of the London Cup, which came off the penultimate ball - clearly their stand-in coach Ebony Rainford-Brent brought the touch of magic required! The Cricket Society should also feel proud that the inaugural winner of the Society’s new Charlotte Edwards Award for Best Schoolgirl Cricketer, 15-year-old Alice Capsey, hit a stylish 17 (from 21 balls) at the top of the order for Surrey and impressed all of those watching the live stream. She’s since gone on to impress in the 50-over London Championship, too.

As I write, there’s been more good news regarding women’s domestic cricket - alongside the men’s Bob Willis Trophy, we have had confirmation from the ECB that the new women’s Regional Centres of Excellence will also be staging a competition this season. There was some concern that because this is an entirely new structure, with no coaching staff yet in place, it would be difficult under current circumstances to go ahead with fixtures. However, it seems that the powers that be have committed to holding a “proper” women’s domestic tournament in what’s left of the 2020 season, with the new Regional Centres now expected to recruit head coaches very quickly indeed! Readers may be interested to learn that our Society Vice President, Charlotte Edwards, will be taking up the reins as head coach of the Southern Vipers.

The matches will be 50-over games, with the teams playing in two regional groups (presumably north and south) followed by a national grand final. The new teams represent amalgamations of counties, and look like this:

• Western Storm - Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Cornwall, Devon, Wales
• Southern Vipers - Hampshire, Sussex, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire
• Sunrisers (London & East) - Essex, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk, Suffolk
• Lightning (East Midlands) - Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Loughborough University
• North West Thunder - Lancashire, Cheshire, Cumbria
• Northern Diamonds - Durham, Yorkshire, Northumberland
• West Midlands (Team name TBC) - Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire
• South East Stars - Kent, Surrey

Additionally, all players will be paid match fees to participate, in addition to the “retainer contracts” which have recently been awarded to 20 players across the 8 teams. More small steps towards a fully professional domestic women’s structure.

One thing which is yet to be decided is the name of the new women’s competition. However, when my website CRICKETher ran a poll on Twitter recently asking (a la the Bob Willis Trophy) who it should be named after, Enid Bakewell won hands down, with 57% of the vote. Fingers crossed that the ECB were paying attention and that the Enid Bakewell Trophy will be coming to a ground near you soon!

Lastly, if readers are at all interested in seeing some live international cricket in the near future, they should keep their eyes peeled for announcements about England Women’s fixtures against South Africa in September, which will all take place at the Derbyshire County Cricket Club ground. Rumour has it that the government are considering allowing spectators in to these matches, as part of an experiment to see if it is safe to slowly bring crowds back to live sport. Get your hand sanitiser and your cricket picnics at the ready!

Raf Nicholson