Women's Sports: ECB announces plans to transform women's cricket


The ECB's new action plan, as well as The Hundred, will be the basis for engaging women's cricket players and fans and redressing the balance between men's and women's cricket.

The new 100-ball format, The Hundred, will consist of eight men's and women's teams, see both genders play under the same rules and has received backing from key players.

Lydia Greenway, the former England cricketer, sees the new format as a great opportunity for women’s cricket in England to close the gap with the men’s game. The five-time Ashes winner believes The Hundred will “create a bigger platform for the women's and girls' game to become more accessible". 

"Both the men's and women's teams sit under joint branding and I think that's something that has never happened before in this country.

"Of course they're not going to be playing in the same teams, but it's a really good step forward and mirrors the other leagues around the world like the women's Big Bash and the Big Bash League over in Australia, which we know is really successful.

The Hundred looks to take over the space that will be left by the termination of England's first premier women's domestic league, the Kia Super League.

The new format will feature eight teams, rather than six, and provide more female players with the opportunity to turn professional.

“The Hundred is the competition where players will be very well paid, where TV coverage will come from, including free-to-air, so the Kia Super League is going as a six-team competition, but there are details to be worked through," said the head of England Women’s cricket, Clare Connor.

Closing the gap and 'Inspiring Generations'

The ECB's 'Inspiring Generations' strategy released on Tuesday has revealed plans to invest £20m in the women's game between 2020-2024.

Clare Connor explained the reasoning behind the governing body's newly launched plans.

"To truly transform women's and girls' cricket, we must now move from targeted standalone programmes to addressing the whole pathway as one.

"We have an amazing opportunity to make cricket the sport we want it to be - a sport that is modern, innovative and inclusive.

"I have been so heartened by the level of enthusiasm, commitment and support for this plan from everyone involved in cricket," she said.

The strategy focuses on five key objectives for the female game following two years of discussion with 38 counties and Cricket Wales: participation, pathway, performance, profile and people.

After the release of the initiative, England Women's captain Heather Knight said: "We need more young girls to be inspired to play and those young girls need to be able to see a clear pathway above them that encourages them to continue pursuing the game.

"As England players, we're fortunate enough to meet lots of young girls who love the game and it means so much to us to see how much they love cricket.

The Hundred's impact on Women's Cricket

In terms of the benefits of The Hundred format, Clare Connor spoke today of the format's impact on women's cricket.

Alongside the announcement of “roughly £8m” worth of investment by the ECB, Connor addressed the ECB's approach to the controversial pay gap that exists between male and female cricketers in The Hundred format. 

GMSW Cricket

"I think there is a huge, collective drive to close the gap," Connor said.

"The salaries we will be paying our female players are very competitive and I think they are in line with the economics of the game more widely.
I really am confident we'll be continuing to tell a positive story about pay."

In the ECB's newly launched action plan for the women's game, a fresh focus will be put on balancing the divide between investment in the men's and women's games. The ECB hopes more investment will help to reduce the performance gap between the England and Australia women's teams and engage more women and girls with the sport.

The plan focuses on a sustainable approach to growing the women's game, with £50m set to be invested in club facilities and also grassroots women's cricket. Additionally, forty full-time professional domestic contracts are to be awarded to women's cricketers.

Clare Connor said: “It’s about giving those talented players that opportunity and for a girl in the game to have visibility ahead of her so she can see how she can progress through our system to become a professional. Australia have been a little ahead of us in that regard. They have done really well, but it’s time for us to make a big move ourselves.”

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