Saturday, 22 July 2017

England and India fight it out for World Title

Tomorrow I will be at Lord's with about 26,500 other people to watch the culmination of the best Women's Cricket World Cup there has ever been. It is estimated that around 100 million people will be watching around the world. Whatever the result it will be a great day.

Before the tournament started we all hoped that it was going to be just that. Great cricket played by skillful players on decent wickets. It has turned out to be a batsmen's heaven with the white Kookaburra ball doing little for the seamers or the spinners. The result has been 14 individual hundreds by 13 separate women (only Nat Sciver has two), and 15 team scores over 250 (in 30 games to date).

It has also produced those knocks that will live long in the memory - Chamari Attaptu's 178* against Australia, as she took them on single-handed; and Harmanpreet Kaur's 171* against the same opponents in a World Cup semi-final. Perhaps they were even more important because they were struck by a Sri Lankan and an Indian - two countries who have taken their time to embrace women playing cricket - on a world stage in front of millions of people, and have produced positive headlines for women's cricket across the globe.

In the five years I have been writing this blog women's cricket has changed beyond all recognition, but it is still in it's infancy and it needs to be nurtured. The pool of top talent is still very thin. Despite what coaches and team managers may say there is no real strength in depth for international teams, as Australia have shown in this tournament, where their lack of seam bowlers coming through has been exposed.

England have the same problem in depth. Beyond the current contracted 18 players there are few who are knocking on the door for selection to the squad, let alone a place in an England starting 11.

This then is the challenge for the next five years - create more depth to the women's game - which will only come about if there is a semi-professional level of cricket below the international players. Australia have already taken this step with all WNCL and WBBL players being paid salaries. In England the KSL pays a few players a pittance - about 25 county players will have earned an average of about £500 from the last tournament.

Much more needs to be done, particularly for 50 over cricket in England. If KSL50 is not to happen, as it seems, then a fully-funded County Premiership 50 over competition needs to be established, with far more games played than in the current County Championship (just seven this year). It will have to be funded by the ECB, but it is essential for the development of the game here in England. It needs to be the best 50 over competition in the world, attracting players from around the world - I'd suggest no more than two per team. Inevitably there would be clashes with international duties for both England and overseas players, but that would allow more opportunities for fringe players.

Six premiership teams with professional coaches, players and support staff, working all year round to produce players with the talent to go on and play for England - that would be my hope.

Will it happen? I have no idea, but something must. The challenge to women's cricket administrators in England, and around the world, is to seize the opportunity that this brilliant competition has opened to take the game to the next level....again!



  1. This world cup has been absolutely brilliant, far beyond anything I would have expected. England and India have both performed superbly overall, and whoever wins tomorrow, neither side can be criticised for the skill and commitment they've shown over the past month.

    The ECB must take advantage of this opportunity to revitalise the women's 50 over competition in whatever way they can. The KSL is useful but still emerging and far too small a competition to do it alone, and the current County Champs. is too low key and does not do the scale of the International games justice. It needs to be taken more seriously by the ECB and played on bigger grounds with better facilities.

  2. WWC17 has been a wonderful success (though there can always be improvements e.g. no need for so many matches to clash in the schedule) but the ICC mustn't be complacent.

    While the approach of batsmen has markedly changed in recent years, one of the major factors in the record breaking scores and run rates at WWC17 has been the quality of the playing surfaces seen for much of the tournament.

    With the World T20 in the Caribbean next year, a major concern will be the standard of the pitches. There have only been three 120+ T20I totals in the West Indies in the last four years. The only countries in which the T20I run rate has been lower during that period are Qatar, Pakistan and Thailand.