Source: ECB

The Way English Women’s cricket is going

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The Trent Bridge test match is under way. The loudest cry is for more of them; they used to be plentiful.

But that means that, by hook or by crook, truly amateur players found ways to take (wangle?) consecutive days off to devote themselves to the game.

How the picture has changed. Tests have shrivelled almost to the point of invisibility. The move is on to resurrect them to their former prominence.

Now that England has 100 contracted players, closing in on the Australians’ happy position. But the season is dominated by the white ball and the short game, in one format or another. For a time it looked as though the challenge was to find the shortest format possible, to match our alleged ever-shortening powers of concentration. Somebody shouted: ‘Eureka! 100!’ He (I’m sure it was a ‘he’) might just as well have shouted 50! – then we could all have retuned home even earlier.

If the final target is a five-test series (x 5 days), then the season needs a radical change. In the men’s game the ODI and the Hundred formats are under heavy attack; they may be on the way out. Could the same happen in women’s cricket?

The Hundred marked a huge breakthrough: crowds were infinitely larger than before and media coverage all-embracing. But it’s no sort of preparation for the longer format, whether 3, 4 or 5- day.

Could women’s cricket survive and prosper without its ugly duckling favourite? One argument is: it’s so close to the T20 in concept, that no-one would notice its disappearance.

As a first step it must be possible to set up a 3-day competition, à la County Championship. After many decades the men’s version decided that 4 days would bring more results and fewer draws. But the women’s game could resonably start with 3-dayers too.

That would/could/should involve a return to a red (Dukes) ball, white apparel (subject to recently expressed concerns) and pale sightscreens, the way cricket was always meant to be.

No doubt Clare Connor and her brightest thinkers are closing in on their latest statement of intentions. The future is bright, but is bound to mean changes that some followers will find indigestible.