Lancashire Cricket Women’s and Girls’ Update
An update from Lancashire Cricket regarding the women's and girls' game in the North West
Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the professional and recreational cricket season, Lancashire and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has reaffirmed its commitment to transforming the women’s and girls’ cricket action plan in the North West.
The ECB confirmed that their ‘Inspiring Generations’ strategy is currently on hold due to the current circumstances, but not the section regarding the growth and investment into the women’s game, despite the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent postponement of The Hundred.
The governing body for cricket in England and Wales recently stated that: "The ECB remains committed to the transforming women’s and girls’ cricket action plan, despite the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In light of the current health crisis we need to re-evaluate the logistics of the first year of the new elite domestic structure, both on the field and off the field – including player and staff recruitment, and fixture dates.
"We are currently collaborating closely with our Regional Hosts and modelling a range of alternative scenarios, including a later start to the season and a reduced season. Although it is not yet on the agenda, a postponement of the first year of elite domestic structure fixtures is also a scenario that may need to come under consideration.
"ECB’s commitment to this long-term plan remains unaffected and close discussions with our Regional Hosts will continue as the situation becomes clearer."
The move to eight regionalised centres across the country comes as part of the ECB’s plan to transform women and girls’ cricket and will ensure year-round training programmes and full-time contracts for players, across the eight regions, outside of the England Women centrally contracted players. The new Women’s Elite Domestic Structure have been developed by the ECB as part of the structure to help produce more elite women cricketers.
Meanwhile, from a Lancashire perspective, bowler Kate Cross has continued her rehabilitation which prematurely forced her home from the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in Australia after injuring her ankle, meanwhile Sophie Ecclestone, Alex Hartley and the rest of the squad continue training from home. The players have an individual strength and conditioning training programme.
It was also announced that Lancashire all-rounder Emma Lamb has signed a rookie contract with the ECB. Lamb, who came through the Club’s Academy, has featured prominently for the Red Rose in both the county scene and the Kia Super League. She was also selected by the Manchester Originals for the inaugural season of the Hundred.
Having spent recent years balancing both a university degree and professional cricket, Lamb now has the opportunity to dedicate herself to cricket full-time after earning a rookie contract.
Lamb said: “I don’t think you can underestimate how difficult it can be to balance university studies with training. It’s quite hard to focus on just the cricket. After completing my Sports and Exercise Science degree at Edge Hill University, I’ve earned my contract so cricket’s now my main focus where it wasn’t before.”
Lancashire’s Regional Development Centre squad have also been busy with individual training programmes. Click here to watch some of the squad practising some cricket-based skills in their back garden, whilst in lockdown.
The women’s programme over the past month has been overseen and driven by David Thorley, who has been appointed as the new Performance Director of Women’s Cricket for both Lancashire Cricket and the new ECB North West regional centre of Excellence, which incorporates Cumbria and Cheshire.
Thorley joins from England Boxing, where he has worked as Head of Talent and Competitions since 2015 and has previous experience in cricket with the ICC as Women’s Cricket Manager for seven years.
Thorley said: “I am very excited to have been appointed to lead the development of the new Women’s Elite Domestic Structure for the North West, that ties into the County programmes of Cheshire and Cumbria. To be able to combine these duties with leading all women’s and Girls cricket for Lancashire Cricket is a fantastic opportunity.
“To have the chance to help shape the future of the women’s and girls’ game across Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria is one that I couldn’t turn down.
“It’s a hugely exciting time for the sport and with the investment that’s going into the new women’s regional structure, we hope to see many more girls take up the game and for them to see it not just as a hobby, but as a career.
“The cancellation of The Hundred presents obvious additional challenges to the structure of the Women’s game over and above those presented to the game as a whole, but we are working on a plan that will see the Women’s game come out stronger through the other side.
“Emirates Old Trafford is a fantastic facility to be able to do this and with investment and resources from both the ECB and Lancashire Cricket, I’m looking forward to developing and nurturing the women and girl’s game across the North West.”