County cricket back – and women will fol­low

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Fiona To­mas

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.

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