ECB managing director Clare Connor insists changes to the domestic structure in English women’s cricket will bring about improved results following a chastening Ashes series.
Australia cruised to a seven-wicket win over England on Sunday in the second T20I of the multi-format series as Ellyse Perry notched up another milestone.
A fifth win sees the tourists stretch their lead to 12-2 points with the final T20I between the teams taking place at Bristol on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports.
In a wide-ranging interview with Sky Sports, Connor says there will be a thorough review of the series and the former England captain is determined to bring about an improvement in results.
The 42-year-old said: “We know we have significantly under-performed, and we will have a look at our preparation, selection and where our players are at – some haven’t developed perhaps as well as we thought over the last couple of years.
“While our Super League over the last four years has helped us bridge the gap between the domestic and the international game, we’ve still got a huge amount more we need to do.”
Connor stressed that England’s woes should take nothing away from Australia enjoying the fruits of their labour, stating that their system and investment over the past five years will put them in a great position for this year’s Ashes series.
During the lengthy interview, Connor admits changes in personnel may be needed in order to achieve the desired results, but also:
Admits the difference in the two domestic structures played a ‘big contributing factor’ in the Ashes lossSays making cricket the No 1 team sport for women and girls in Australia five years ago was an ‘unashamed statement’Highlights that Australia are benefiting from a $2 million-a-year ‘Growing the Game for Girls’ fundOutlines that Australia have developed a ‘compelling, competitive domestic structure’ in semi-pro 50-over cricket and the Women’s Big Bash LeagueConcedes that England ought to have emulated Australia’s model for the women’s game five years ago
When pressed on why England did not similarly invest significantly in the women’s game back in 2014, Connor added: “Why does anything take time? Organisations have different priorities at different times.
“Our focus five years ago was improving the package for the England Women’s centrally-contracted players, developing the Kia Super League and investing heavily into that. What we’re doing now is investing £20m in the next two years into transforming the game for women and girls.
“We had an important board meeting last week in which the two-year plan over how that £20m of investment will be broken down, and that was improved by the board.
“Whilst this has been very disappointing and there are huge lessons to learn, we must be very optimistic about the opportunity that lies ahead for us.”
The former Sussex captain believes that it is ‘impossible’ to speculate over when the new investment and strategic focus will translate into better results for the England Women’s cricket team – but says the holistic plan will bring about an increase in participation from the age of five.
Progressing that interest into a secondary school programme while making cricket clubs in the country much more inclusive for girls is imperative, and Connor further proposes that the ECB will use the investment on:
The Girls’ County age-group programme, across all 39 Counties and WalesThe new domestic structure, developing a semi-pro eight-team competition in 50-over and T20 formatsHigh quality coaching, high quality pitches, good science and medicine support
‘County structure negatively impacting our best players’
Connor says the plans have been 18 months in the making, but concedes the Women’s County game needs to be urgently addressed.
“The reality is that the current structure is not going to accelerate the performance of our best players,” she added.
“We’ve got some counties playing women’s county cricket who don’t play any hard-ball club cricket, and we’ve got some adult women’s county sides that sometimes don’t turn up with 11 players and have Under 13s and Under 14s playing in those competitions.