Eight-match programme for Dutch women in ECB championship
A restructuring of the ECB Women’s County Championship means that the Dutch women’s side will have an expanded programme of matches in next season’s competition.
Five divisions have been compressed into three, so the Orange Lionesses, who won their way into Division Two by securing promotion for the third year in a row, will now take part in a nine-team competition rather than the six they would otherwise have faced.
Their opponents will be Warwickshire (who finished fourth in last season’s Second Division), Cheshire (fifth) and Wales (sixth), along with former Division 3 sides Staffordshire, Devon, Worcestershire and Lancashire (all of whom were beaten by the Dutch last season), and Durham, promoted from Division 4.
The Dutch women have seldom been tested in this competition so far, but seem likely to face a greater challenge in 2012. The side will be keen to progress further after the disappointment of losing ODI status at last month’s World Cup qualifier in Bangladesh, and the County Championship, the ECB Twenty20 Cup and an ICC Europe Twenty20 tournament in Ireland in July will give them plenty to opportunities to test their mettle, and perhaps to introduce one or two new players.
While all the County Championship matches will again be played in England or Wales, the KNCB announced on Thursday that an MCC women’s team, including current and former England internationals, will visit the Netherlands next season.
Meanwhile, the Bond continues to expand its development programme for young women cricketers, with an ‘Emerging players’ group identified for intensive training over the winter. With under-13, under-17 and A-team squads being renewed and the possibility of a national under-15 squad to complete the set, the elements of a coherent development pathway are being put into place.
But as with boys’ cricket, the long-term success of the strategy will depend upon cricket’s ability to increase the numbers of young people taking up and continuing with the sport, and in the case of the girls, it is to be hoped that plans for a new competition to bridge the gap between mixed junior cricket and the senior women’s game can be put into effect next season.