County cricket back – and women will follow
The England and Wales Cricket board has reiterated its “unwavering” commitment to start the women’s domestic game this year.
On the day that it was announced that men’s county cricket would resume on Aug 1 – confirming a Telegraph story of May 28 – the ECB said it wanted the new women’s elite competition, comprising eight regions, to follow suit this summer.
Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive officer, said: “Planning for the return of the women’s domestic game remains ongoing, but our commitment to women’s domestic cricket is unwavering. Our strong preference is that the new elite domestic structure starts this summer and we will work hard to ensure that happens. For this to be achieved, brand new infrastructure still needs to be rolled out.”
Harrison’s words will offer renewed hope for female domestic cricketers, many of whom have been hit hard by the pandemic. The cancellation of the Hundred meant scores missed out on a landmark domestic contract, while 40 fulltime regional contracts planned for this season were put on hold.
“Our first choice remains to do everything we can to start this year and build on the fantastic momentum in the women’s game,” Harrison added. “In the event that proves impossible, we will explore other options for play to enable our women’s players to enjoy competitive domestic cricket in 2020.
“We will continue to work closely with the men’s and women’s domestic game to ensure necessary safety measures are in place to protect the well-being of everyone.”
Harrison welcomed the confirmation of a start date for the men’s county season as a “significant step”. The fixture list will be discussed by the 18 counties in the next few days.