The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), on Tuesday (August 11), confirmed its decision to name the domestic 50-over competition this summer as the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy in honour of England’s World Cup-winning captain. They will announce the schedule of the competition on Wednesday (August 12).
The competition will feature the eight new teams that were formed as part of the new elite domestic structure. The special edition of the competition was created to make sure women’s cricket is played despite restrictions that were in place in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition will be replaced by a new domestic one-day tournament next year.
“I’m delighted that, despite the obvious challenges of COVID-19, we have been able to continue to build the new women’s elite domestic structure to the point that we’ll see the eight regions playing 50-over cricket this summer,” said Clare Connor, ECB Managing Director of Women’s Cricket.
Eight teams will be divided into two groups of four region wise and they will play six group-stage matches with top teams from each group progressing to the final. The tournament is set to begin on August Bank Holiday weekend and will end with a final on September 26. The team that tops the table at the end of the group stage will host the final. The full schedule for the tournament will be announced on Wednesday (August 12).
“Off the back of appointing the eight Regional Directors of Women’s Cricket and awarding Regional Retainers, we have worked closely with colleagues across the men’s domestic game to ensure we are able to stage domestic women’s cricket safely and at high-quality venues,” Connor added.
“Rachael Heyhoe-Flint would have been proud to witness the professionalisation of the domestic women’s game. She did so much for our sport and without her work, passion and dedication, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
“It’s therefore fitting that this special edition of the competition will be played in her honour. I’d personally like to extend my thanks to Rachael’s son, Ben, with whom we collaborated on the logo for the competition.”
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Heyhoe-Flint played 22 Tests and 23 ODIs for England during her 19-year career. She led England to the title in the first-ever Cricket World Cup in 1973. She had been instrumental in laying the foundation for women’s cricket and her efforts played a big role in the evolution of women’s cricket to where it is now. In 2010, she became the first women in the ICC Hall of Fame. She passed away at the age of 77 in 2017 and as a tribute to her ICC renamed The Women’s Cricketer of the Year award after her from 2017 onwards.
Natasha Farrant, England cricketer, who was given a retainer contract with the South East Stars as part of the new domestic structure, expressed her happiness in getting to play some domestic cricket this summer.
“I’m so glad we’ll be playing domestic cricket this summer. I know in the wake of COVID-19 it’s taken a lot of work to get to this point and it’s really important that we’ve got here,” Farrant said.
“Playing regular and competitive regional cricket will be vital for the women’s domestic game, and it’s good that even in the current climate we’ve seen an emphasis placed on getting it across the line.”
Farrant, who has played 15 internationals for England so far, acknowledged Heyhoe-Flint’s contribution towards the game and said she is looking forward to featuring in the competition.
“I can’t wait to play, and I am sure it’s the same for every player. To be competing this year for the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint trophy, given everything she has done for women’s cricket, is particularly special and hopefully the trophy will head the way of South East Stars.”
The eight teams set to be a part of the competition are as follows:
Central Sparks, consisting of Warwickshire CCC & Worcestershire CCC, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire;
Lightning, consisting of Loughborough University, Derbyshire CCC, Leicestershire CCC, Nottinghamshire CCC, Lincolnshire;
Northern Diamonds, comprising Yorkshire CCC, Durham CCC, Northumberland;
Thunder, which includes Lancashire CCC, Cheshire, Cumbria;
South East Stars, which has Surrey CCC and Kent CCC;
Southern Vipers comprising Hampshire Cricket Ltd, Sussex CCC, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire;
Sunrisers, which has Middlesex CCC, Essex CCC, Northamptonshire CCC, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk, Suffolk; and
Western Storm, which comprises Glamorgan CCC, Gloucestershire CCC, Somerset CCC, Cricket Wales, Cornwall, Devon, Wiltshire.