ECB Announces Major Restructure of Women’s Cricket

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) initiated its third major revamp for the women’s game in the last eight years by inviting bids from the 18 counties and the MCC for ownership of the 8 regional women’s teams. The bidding process concluded on March 10, with 16 out of the 18 first-class counties submitting tenders.

ECB
ECB

Worcestershire and Derbyshire were the two teams that opted out due to financial constraints. Among the remaining 16, the counties successful in securing Tier 1 women’s team status from 2025 are Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey, and Warwickshire.

The absence of Sussex and Yorkshire from the 8 has raised eyebrows, but Yorkshire, along with Glamorgan, will join the current Tier 1 counties in 2027 as part of an expansion plan. They will receive financial support from 2025 to 2027 to establish their own Tier 1 standard talent pathway. The ECB has expressed its intention to expand Tier 1 to 12 teams by 2029, although no decisions have been made regarding these teams would be based on.

The applications were evaluated by a panel consisting of Ebony Rainford-Brent, Neil Snowball, Kelly Simmons, and Maggie Murphy, focusing on criteria such as vision, cricket quality – player development, accessibility to facilities – and long-term values, among others.

The first-class counties not granted Tier 1 status, along with national counties, will have the opportunity to participate in a process to establish Tier 2 and Tier 3 teams. These teams will be announced by September 2024 and put into action from the 2025 season onwards. As part of this process, regional sides will be dissolved, and counties will take direct responsibility for managing and nurturing women’s teams.

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ECB Director of Women’s Professional Game Beth Barrett-Wild said, on the progress thus far said, “At the start of this tender process we challenged the First Class Counties to show us their vision for the women’s professional game and to demonstrate their desire and commitment to becoming one of our professional Tier 1 Clubs.

“Over the last couple of months, it’s been brilliant to see the time and energy that has gone into the submissions, and I’ve been hugely impressed by the quality and ambition of the bids.

“It’s clear that the game is united in wanting to take the women’s professional game forward, and in wanting to produce commercially vibrant teams and competitions that excite fans and showcase the quality of our professional players. I’m energized about what comes next.”

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