The England & Wales Cricket Board recently announced that it had produced an ambitious plan to revolutionise women’s cricket. The plan will receive £20 million in funding, split over two years and the ECB has left the door open for a rise to £50 million over five years.
Announced in early October, the plan includes 40 new professional contracts for female cricketers, worth approximately £27,500. This would mean they match the minimum wage given to male county cricketers. This new 40 would be in addition to the existing 21 players on the women’s England national team.
Wider Cultural Change
This plan is part of a broader cultural change across all sports to strive for a greater balance across genders. A recent announcement by World Rugby will see the word “Women’s” dropped from the Rugby World Cup competition for females so that no distinction can be drawn between it and the male tournament. The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which was held in France, was also the biggest competition in the tournament’s history, receiving more media coverage than in previous years.
Taking the Fight to Australia
Australia has been leading the way in women’s cricket for many years. Their national team is by far the best in the world, demonstrated by a recent one-sided match with Sri Lanka in a T20 series. This success is partially thanks to the opportunities presented by the strong domestic women’s league.
The Women’s Big Bash League is Australia’s Twenty20 league for women. Consisting of eight teams, the WBBL has been operating since 2015, replacing the Australian Women’s Twenty20 Cup.
On its route to this success, Australia has made similar investments in women’s cricket. Helping it to have more than 100 professional female cricketers.
The £20 million of funding has been set out to deliver five critical objectives across a 10-point plan. The ECB hopes to improve the participation of women in the sport, develop pathways for them, and increase the performance of women’s cricket teams. It also hopes to raise the profile of the sport and create a focus on “people” within cricket.
The plan will create eight new regional cubs to identify and train new talent. A semi-professional structure of eight teams based from these hubs will play Twenty20 and 50-over cricket. The ECB will announce in December where these hubs will be located.