Taunton the new home for women's cricket
The County Ground at Taunton was today unveiled as the new home of women's cricket in England.
This initiative, the first ever of its kind for women's cricket, gives the sport a permanent base. One of the key reasons behind the scheme is to assist with the fixtures in the women's game, for both domestic and international matches. The ECB will endeavour to have domestic finals and key matches at Taunton every season with a view to bringing major domestic tournaments, such as the Challenge Cup and Junior Super 4s to Taunton in the future.
At least one women's international match is guaranteed at the ground every year. Crowds at Taunton have been the best away from Lord's for women's internationals ever since it first hosted a match in 1997. Promotion of women's cricket will be an integral part of Somerset's advertising and promotional campaign for cricket.
Regional events, such as training camps and in particular the South Region winter training sessions, will be held at the cricket school on site at the ground. The regional women's forums, which take place in October, will also now be hosted there.
The new ground development which is planned by Somerset will incorporate suitable facilities for female athletes and the players will have access to all the services on a regular basis. Additionally, the South Women's Regional Cricket Manager (WRCM) will have an office on site as part of the redevelopment.
"Once again England is leading the way with new developments for women's cricket," explained Gill McConway, ECB executive director for women's cricket. "We organised the first cricket World Cup for women and the first ever international Twenty20. We also instigated Super 4s, a competition which other nations are really keen to integrate into their domestic game.
"For me this is a huge step for the women's game - to have a first-class county ground wanting women's cricket to be an integral part of their future is a definite boost. It's an especially exciting time as there are stunning new development plans for the ground and to be associated with one of England's most progressive county schemes can only benefit the game.
"It will be the first time the women's game will have continuity in the grounds where they play as Somerset have guaranteed us an international every year."
Charlotte Edwards, England's captain, was equally excited. "I'm delighted with the choice of venue," she told the BBC. "Taunton has always been a favourite ground, both personally and for the team: historically we have always done very well there, so hopefully we can continue that tradition!
"I'm really excited about the development of the ground and what that also means for women's cricket. It's destined to become a great venue with brilliant facilities and it's exciting that we'll be a part of that vision and long-term development."