16 of 18 Counties Bid for Tier-1 Women’s Team

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) recently initiated the third significant overhaul for the women’s game in the past eight years. They extended invitations to all 18 counties to submit bids for ownership of regional women’s teams, with the aim of rebranding and enhancing both professionalism and financial standing starting in 2025.

16 of 18 Counties Bid for Tier-1 Women's Team
16 of 18 Counties Bid for Tier-1 Women’s Team

The bidding process for ownership of the eight existing women’s teams closed on March 10, with 16 of the 18 first-class counties submitting tenders. Durham, Yorkshire, Kent, Somerset, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Middlesex, and Glamorgan have confirmed their bids. However, Worcestershire and Derbyshire opted out due to financial constraints.

Derbyshire CEO Ryan Duckett explained their decision to opt-out, stating, “Derbyshire makes up 9% of the population of the Midlands, yet 26% of women’s cricket that was played across the region in the last year involved a team from the county… we felt that in the short term, as a standalone county, it may have been essential to compromise what is currently being delivered as a collective across the region and therefore believe this decision is in the best interest of the game.”

First-class counties not awarded Tier 1 status, along with all national counties, will participate in determining the structure of Tier 2 and 3 competitions. This includes 10-14 teams for Tier 2 and 16-20 teams for Tier 3.

Worcestershire CEO Ashley Giles expressed readiness for Tier 2, stating, “At this point, it would just be more a funding and a resource issue for us… we also have the Women’s Rapids and I’m very keen that we start to develop that team so that when we come to those next levels, Tier 2 for example, that we’re ready to go.”

Also Read:  Techfront Australia is the new sports tech provider for ICC

Counties were tasked to respond to a comprehensive set of 32 questions, including clarifying the women’s team’s position in their hierarchy of priorities, outlining plans for inclusion and comfort, and ensuring active participation in decision-making processes.

Additionally, they were required to specify the number of professional contracts they plan to extend to women players from 2025 to 2028, outline strategies for providing equal access to top-tier training facilities for women and girls, and decide on the venue for hosting home matches of the women’s senior team.

Applications will be judged by a panel including Ebony Rainford-Brent, Neil Snowball from the ECB, Kelly Simmons, and Maggie Murphy. Interviews are scheduled for March 21, 22, and 25, during which counties will present their bids to the evaluation panel and undergo a 45-minute Q&A session.

The current lineup of eight regional teams – Sunrisers, South East Stars, Thunder, Northern Diamonds, Southern Vipers, The Blaze, Western Storm, and Central Sparks – are each associated with a couple of counties. The new arrangement could potentially disappoint some counties; for example, Surrey and Kent are contending for the opportunity to host the South East Stars, while Northamptonshire faces strong competition within their region.

The new system, ready by September 2024 and implemented from the 2025 season, will see the dissolution of regional sides, with counties assuming direct responsibility for overseeing and developing women’s teams.

(Inputs sourced from The Guardian and ESPN)

Join Our WhatsApp Channel Join Now
Follow us on Instagram Join Now

Liked the story? Leave a comment here