Clare Connor Praises Work of Counties Making Kia Super League a Success
Clare Connor, the ECB's managing director of women’s cricket, has praised the work of counties such as Hampshire in helping to make the Kia Super League a success.
And Connor believes that there is even more opportunity to grow the women’s game when eight teams play alongside their men’s equivalent in The Hundred, which starts in July 2020, including the team based at the Ageas Bowl.
Connor was at Hove on Sunday to see the Kia Super League get a fitting send-off after four successful seasons, when Western Storm beat the Southern Vipers in the final to take the trophy, despite a brilliant 73 from Vipers opener Danni Wyatt, who was also named player of the tournament.
“I am really proud of what the KSL achieved," Connor said.
"The six teams and the counties who hosted them did an amazing job to make the competition what it set out to do which was to bridge the gap between county and international cricket and give it a new platform.
“We were able to give an opportunity to girls to show their skills in front of big crowds and on TV and pay them more, even though they were modest amounts. By all measures the KSL has a big tick alongside it but there’s a lot to be excited about next year as well.”
The player recruitment process for the women's competition is already under way. The Southampton-based team will be obliged to sign two centrally contracted England players this month, with the remainder of the 15-player squads being selected from October onwards.
Teams will be allowed to sign one more England player and a maximum of three overseas stars.
Although the women’s team will take part in some double-headers with the men at the Ageas Bowl, they will play the majority of their games at the First Central County Ground, Hove.
Former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena and ex-England women’s captain Charlotte Edwards have been confirmed as coaches.
Connor added: “I think what the KSL did was show that you can create a pathway from the domestic game to international cricket and players such as Sophia Dunkley, Freya Davies and Kirstie Gordon have managed to do that.
“But with eight teams more players are going to have that opportunity in The Hundred, they will have that environment in which to flourish with an even better structure and level of support for the players.”
It’s all part of a £20million boost for the women’s game which will see 20 and 50-over competitions at county level, the setting up of regional academies and will enable the ECB to contract more players outside the elite centrally contracted group.
Connor added: “It’s going to take time to bed in, but the vision is for more girls to come into cricket and see a clear pathway to the very top.”
Vipers captain Tammy Beaumont admitted she was sad to see the KSL disappear, but is excited at what the future holds.
“The KSL has been brilliant," she said.
"We’ve seen some fantastic cricket and it’s helped young players come through into the England set-up, which is one of the main aims when it started. Next year is going to be exciting though with more teams and more players and hopefully I will be a part of it.”