16 Counties Bid for Professional Women's Cricket Teams in England and Wales

16 Counties Bid for Professional Women’s Cricket Teams in England and Wales

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has received bids from 16 of the 18 first-class counties for the creation of eight professional women’s teams in a revamped domestic competition starting next season. The move aims to address the identity crisis faced by some regional teams by aligning them more closely with existing counties.

Essex, Glamorgan, Surrey, Lancashire, Sussex, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire, Warwickshire, Gloucestershire, Middlesex, Kent, Northamptonshire, Durham, Yorkshire, Leicestershire, and Somerset have all submitted tenders for Tier 1 teams. Worcestershire and Derbyshire are the only two counties that have confirmed they did not bid.

The ECB will invest a minimum of £1.3 million per year into each Tier 1 team, with a portion earmarked for player salaries, sports science and medicine, and talent pathways. Counties are not required to make a minimum financial commitment but are expected to outline their projected investment as part of the tender process.

The existing regional teams will remain in place for the 2024 season. However, the ECB is seeking to establish a more sustainable and cohesive women’s domestic structure by aligning teams with counties. This will provide greater ownership, responsibility, and governance to the clubs.

Counties not awarded Tier 1 status, along with National Counties, will be invited to participate in a process to determine the make-up of Tier 2 and Tier 3 competitions. Derbyshire, despite not bidding for a Tier 1 team, has expressed its commitment to developing a sustainable Tier 2 women’s structure with the aim of eventually achieving Tier 1 status.

Worcestershire CEO Ashley Giles cited funding and resource constraints as reasons for not bidding for a Tier 1 team. However, the county will continue to support the Central Sparks regional team and develop its own Women’s Rapids team for future competitions.

The ECB will notify counties of interview slots for the next stage of the process imminently, with interviews expected to take place by the end of March. The successful counties will be announced in due course.

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