We can’t let the crisis narrow down our ambitions, says Clare Connor
Clare Connor, the Head of England Women’s Cricket at England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB), has said that the decisions that are to be made in the next two years by the International Cricket Council (ICC) would be crucial to ensure the growth of women’s cricket.
“Ultimately it comes down to the decision making about investment both in our member boards and at the ICC level,” Connor said during a virtual interaction of 100% cricket programme featuring former cricketers Lisa Sthalekar, Ian Bishop and India ODI skipper Mithali Raj.
Connor, the former England cricketer said that it is her plea to those people who are sitting around important decision-making tables. “We all identify women’s game across the globe as a huge opportunity for audience fan engagement and commercial opportunity. So, we can’t now let this crisis narrow our ambition,” she said.
Speaking about gender diversity in cricket administration, Connor said that there had been a huge shift at the ECB in the way the board looks at women’s cricket. “I have been working with ECB now for a decade, and there were no women on the board. We now have 30% of our board members are female,” she said.
Connor said that the understanding of the role that women’s cricket could play for the whole game has improved drastically over the years. “In terms of relevance, sustainability and engaging families, and the fact that our sport is competing with other sports unless your opportunities with family and children. It is understood and accepted that women’s cricket is the biggest growth area, and there’s still huge potential for growth,” she stated.
In the ICC, however, Connor said that the shift has been slower. She credited former Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland for the shift when he was the helm of the country’s cricket governing body. “A huge is shift there in terms of the discussions around the women’s game, and a deeper understanding and commitment to investing in it,” she said.
Connor, who is also the Chair of the ICC Women’s Committee & Member of the Cricket Committee, said that the lack of women in the ICC board committee is a concerning issue. “There are 18 members on that board, 14 full members, three associates, and one female independent director. Therefore the discussion of the chairs, all of those chairs who are on that board are all male, and they are going to have the interest of their own organisations first and foremost,” she said.
She also added that despite the exciting last ten years for women’s cricket, if there is a paradigm shift in representation of women in the governance of the sport, it would help the way the sport progresses. “I think the last ten years have been exciting, but, if we can get the governance across the whole international game later, then we are going to have some really exciting times ahead. I hope that can happen,” Connor concluded.