Warning... Changes ahead! #womenscricket

As we await the announcement of the next big name to take over the Irish women's cricket coaching role, the planning for the 2015 domestic season has already got underway.

Last week in Leinster Cricket Club, the Cricket Leinster Women's AGM took place. Well attended and structured, it became apparent that there's some hugely positive changes happening in women's cricket at last.

The main points discussed were -

  1. Regulations & Competition Structure 2014
  2. Leagues
  3. Cup
  4. Pilkington Plate

Following on from a Think Tank discussion at the end of last season, a proposal has been sent into Cricket Ireland for a new Pro40/50 restructured competition to be put in place for 2015.

This will consist of 3 or 4 squads (depending on numbers) being formed, each having a Coach and Manager. It’s envisaged that they'll play each other 2/3 times in the 50 over format, and possibly t20 too.

A welcomed change that will keep the women’s game in line with the men’s current inter-provincials. It has been a number of years since the last proper women's inter-provincial competition has taken place.

It used to be a great competition played with huge fight and over the years it disappeared for many reasons; County Champs, not enough interest, not enough drive from the cricketing bodies; south Leinster being too strong and it being one sided, hence not providing any use for selection etc.

There had been some attempt to replace it with 1 or 2 other competition types, but they did not take off. All this taken into consideration, it has highlighted our need to keep up with other countries and invest in a new robust 50 over competition.

The logistics for all this are being worked out at the moment, sending out an exciting message and will give girls who want to play for Ireland a clear pathway and something to work too.

Next year the Irish Women’s team head to Bangkok to try qualify for the next World t20 Cup competition in 2016, to be hosted by India.

As our main league is our t20 competition we should hold our own, and we do seem to perform better on a world stage in this particular format. With so much talent coming through from our youth cricket, it’s about time we sorted out our 50 over competition and start competing in this format.

This won't happen overnight, but we have some amazing young cricketers and coaches in place and it’s shaping up to be something special. From an outside point of view, it seems Trent Johnson has played an instrumental part in developing our Irish senior and underage players, encouraging a new approach to their cricket and in some cases we are seeing some get up and go.

Back in September, 16 year-old Leinster player Anna Kerrison became the first female to enrol at the prestigious Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy in Australia. She is now spending the summer in Adelaide looking to improve her game, and furthering her international ambitions.

Also, Kingsborough Knights Women’s Cricket Team Tasmania, signed up Mary Waldron. They welcomed the Irish Woman’s Vice Captain - who has been signed to coach & play with the Knights ladies in season 2014/15. This is something you usually read about week in and out on BBC Sport and Cricinfo from English, NZ and Aussie female players, and now we’re starting follow suit and seeing the girls taking on board the responsibility to go improve their game and feed it back into our domestic game.

Another point discussed at the meeting; Bagenalstown, Dundalk and Tyrrelstown have 3 new women’s teams who want to enter the 3rd division next year. With some current teams looking to enter a 2nd or 3rd team next summer, it was said that clubs need to let the Cricket Leinster committee know ASAP so the new league structures can be put in place. Seeing YM entering back into the 1st Division last year and Clontarf pull out and hoping to rebuild and enter again, it shows there is a lot happening behind the scenes.

The standard and coaching has jumped dramatically and its feeding into the women’s game at last. It was suggested that the 20 over Cup be changed to 25 overs again, to make it ‘different’, and some ridiculous bowling scenarios were discussed and then thrown out the window, and thankfully the committee agreed it would stay as a 20 over Cup as it needs to stay in line with International rules.

For 2015 the umpires have requested earlier start times than. 6:30 pm, clearer rules and regs and captains reports to be implemented. Rodney Smythe and Judy Cohen are taking charge of making sure all competition rules and regs are up to-date and ready for 2015.

It will be early 2015 before the fixtures for next summer can be made, again the 1st Division fixtures will be made by Cricket Leinster and all other divisions will arrange their own. Thursday will remain as the 1st Division game day. With a lot of travel and youths playing in the other 2 divisions, they will make their own arrangements to suit each club. Some Saturday mornings will be needed with trips to Bagenalstown, Dundalk and Tyrrelstown being lined up.

Mary Sharp as cool as ice, reiterated the fact that clubs needed to send in their scorecards on time and needed to pay attention to the details. Several scorecards were sent in with “?” as a batter or bowler, and on several occasions just left blank.

Many different spellings of the same name were used and made it hard for the computer software to differentiate between players – example L. Woods, Laura Woods and L. Wood. Now to everybody else we may know what or who this refers to but the computer added it as 3 different people confusing stats and averages. Mary is putting together a “scorecards for dummies” pack for next year and this will be communicated to each club.

Lastly, as you have all seen across all sports, Social Media has come to the party and has become a huge part of sport today. This year especially, we saw a growth in fan engagement online. People trusting the information and knowing they can have results and fixtures to hand and up to-date, is invaluable.

This has a knock on effect if delivered correctly and we can see growth areas across areas like -

  • Member engagement
  • Membership growth
  • Club Socials
  • Fixtures & Results
  • Advertising & marketing
  • Links with other clubs & Unions etc.
  • Sponsorship prospects
  • Club relations

With the average female cricket player being under 20 years of age, we must keep with the trends. Social Media is at the Sports forefront.

Not only do players want to watch cricket, but they want the scores and video/pictures of other games live to their hand held devices. Social Media and some post game reviews helped promote the women’s game massively last summer.

On reviewing last summer’s stats, the interaction we saw across Facebook, Twitter and the CricketLeinster reviews were high and we hope to send it through the roof next year.

For this to happen, it’s hoped that all 1st division teams will start fully using the CricketLeinsters Live Match Centre, and more people get involved sending in match reports across all divisions.

Lots more to do… get involved!