The battle to have their version of the domestic franchise tournament and to sustain its relevance intensifies. Over the years, several countries have taken proactive steps to provide equal opportunities for women cricketers in their respective countries by providing a platform via an introduction of the domestic franchise league. Cricket Australia launched the women’s version of the Big Bash League (WBBL) in the year 2015, the Women’s Caribbean Premier League (WCPL) from the West Indies, the Women’s Super Smash from New Zealand, and the Women’s Premier League (WPL) from India are some of the prominent examples of Women’s franchise leagues around the world. On the other hand, the England Cricket Board (ECB) has introduced a completely new format coined as the Hundred that consists of a hundred balls per inning.
The Inaugural edition of the Women’s Hundred was originally scheduled to take place in the year 2020 but unfortunately had to be postponed to the year 2021 courtesy of the Covid-19 pandemic. A total of eight teams namely, Southern Brave, Oval Invincibles, Birmingham Phoenix, London Spirit, Manchester Originals, Northern Superchargers, Trent Rockets, and Welsh Fire. The Oval Invincibles were the defending champions for the first couple of seasons. The two-time runners-up, Southern Brave led by skipper Anya Shrubsole eventually clinched their maiden title in the Women’s Hundred last year by defeating the Northern Superchargers led by skipper Hollie Armitage. The upcoming edition will be the fourth edition of the tournament.
— Female Cricket (@imfemalecricket) January 18, 2024
A couple of star Australian players Ashleigh Gardner and Tahlia McGrath opted out of the third edition of the league, last year. Ahead of the fourth edition this year ECB has decided to invest £800,000 and reward a salary hike of up to 40% for each squad. The two highest earners in each squad will earn up to a 60% rise as they will now receive £50,000, after getting paid £15,000 in the inaugural edition of the Women’s Hundred in 2021 with an intent to reduce the gender pay gap and encourage the other overseas players to participate in the league.
The upcoming edition of the league is likely to get underway towards the end of July and conclude in August later in the year. The Asia Cup will follow the fourth edition of the women’s hundred and then the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in the month of September-October later this year. The upcoming edition of the Hundred will present an opportunity for the players to get into the groove ahead of the most anticipated ICC event of the year in Bangladesh.
The women’s draft for the upcoming edition of the league is expected to take place in March and it will continue to be played in the double-header format meaning the men’s and the women’s matches will be played consecutively on the same venue.