Women's cricket July 4, 2014

ICC launches women's Championship

ESPNcricinfo staff

The inaugural edition of the ICC women's championship, which has been devised to provide context to women's bilateral series, is set to begin this August. The ICC outlined the structure of the multi-year competition which will also serve as a preliminary qualifying stage for the next women's World Cup 2017 to be held in England.

During the women's championship, the top eight sides will face each other in three ODIs either at home or away and will accumulate points for every result. The four teams at the top of the table when the competition ends in 2016 will get direct entry to the 2017 World Cup, while the bottom four will get a second chance to make the World Cup through a qualifier system.

ICC chief executive David Richardson said the championship would provide fresh playing opportunities for women's cricket along with being the "meritocratic pathway" to the World Cup. The ICC Board's decision to hold a stand-alone ICC Women's World Twenty20 tournament every four years alternately with the ongoing joint men's and women's ICC World Twenty20, the women's championship becomes an addition to playing calendar in the women's game.

The first round of the Women's Championship will feature Australia hosting Pakistan, England hosting India, Sri Lanka hosting South Africa and West Indies hosting New Zealand.

Clare Connor, chair of the ICC women's committee, said: "The ICC Women's Championship is an exciting new initiative that represents a significant step in the continued development of women's cricket. The multi-year structure provides regular playing opportunities for the leading women's teams, as well as clear context around bi-lateral series that provides a competitive pathway into the ICC Women's World Cup 2017."