KNCB acts to confront crisis in women's cricket
Following on from the withdrawal of Rood en Wit Haarlem, and now the second team of Hermes-DVS Schiedam, from its women’s competitions, the KNCB has announced a series of measures to reorganise the latter part of the current season.
One immediate effect is a change in the promotion and relegation arrangements between the Hoofdklasse and the Eerste Klasse, now reduced to six and three teams respectively. Whereas there was to have been a three-team series designed to reduce the Hoofdklasse to six teams in 2013, there will now be a single match between the sixth-placed team in the top flight and the winner of the Eerste Klasse.
Should the latter turn out to be VOC Rotterdam, however, who have already indicated that they do not wish to be promoted, this play-off would involve the runners-up in the Eerste Klasse.
More immediately, the Bond has also taken steps to ensure that those players who now find themselves without a team for the rest of the season are after all able to take the field: exceptionally, they will be allowed to appear as guest players for other clubs.
This relaxing of the normal rules, which the Bond is keen to emphasise is a one-off measure in the present extreme circumstances, serves several purposes: it enables the players to retain their link with their existing clubs, both of which have stressed that they are keen to return to the fray next season; it gives those players who do wish to appear regularly, some of whom are in national representative squads, the opportunity to do so; and it strengthens other sides which are themselves struggling to find players – of the six teams which took part in last Saturday’s opening round of the Women’s Hoofdklasse Twenty20 competition, three fielded less than a full eleven.
With the original match schedule being rewritten as a result of the two withdrawals, there is also a proposal to play friendly matches involving the sides which now have additional free days. And with an eye to the future, the KNCB is suggesting that the women’s teams which are at present being developed at Voorburg and Excelsior ’20 Schiedam might be involved in this informal programme, giving them valuable match practice in advance of their intended participation in next season’s competition.
The prospects are therefore not entirely grim, but there can be little doubt that the disappearance of these two sides, and particularly of that of the once-prosperous Rood en Wit, should serve as a wake-up call for Dutch women’s cricket, and for the Dutch cricket community more generally.
With other women’s teams battling to remain viable and only nine sides now remaining, the time has come for a comprehensive effort on the part of all the game’s ‘stakeholders’ to ensure that as much as possible of the ground lost over the past twenty years is recovered, and recovered fast.