Women's cricket June 17, 2014

ICC defends move to cancel Americas Women's Championship

The ICC has defended itself from criticism it has received regarding the cancellation of the ICC Americas Women's Championship by stating that money that would have been spent to hold the event would be better used to fund grassroots initiatives.

The ICC Americas Women's Division One Championship was last held in 2012 with the winner, Canada, advancing to the 2013 Women's World T20 Qualifier in Ireland, where they defeated Japan to finish third out of four teams in their group. In the 2011 Women's World Cup Qualifier, USA participated as the Americas representative and suffered five heavy defeats in their six games but managed to record a landmark one-run win over Full Member nation Zimbabwe. The results were not enough to prevent the regional event being scrapped for the foreseeable future.

The championship's format (T20 or one-dayers) is defined by the closest global women's tournament, so that it can serve as a qualifying tournament for teams from the Americas. So, it's scrapping means there is no chance for a team from the Americas to compete for a spot in the 2016 Women's World T20 and potentially the 2017 Women's World Cup and 2018 Women's World T20 as well, as there is no regional qualifier.

"No region has had a women's championship cancelled," stated an ICC spokesperson in response to an email from ESPNcricinfo. "However, the Americas region is the first region in which a women's championship has not been scheduled.

"In recent times, the majority of ICC investment in the women's game at Associate and Affiliate member level has gone into running international competitions. In some regions, these competitions are run for small groups of domestic players.

"In some cases, this opportunity has led to a significant increase in the number of women's players in the region while in others this investment focus has stagnated already small local player numbers. The latter has happened in the Americas region."

Nadia Gruny, who played for the USA at the 2011 Women's World Cup Qualifier in Bangladesh and was their leading scorer at the 2012 ICC Americas Women's Championship, wrote a piece which was published by the Huffington Post last week in which she criticised the ICC's decision. Gruny believes it makes women's players in the USA and the Americas "victims of gender inequity" and that it is a violation of the "ICC's own principles and its goal to build a bigger, better, global game".

"Without the tournament, there is no incentive for US organisations to invest in women's cricket," Gruny wrote. "An entire region is denied an opportunity to play in a World Cup Qualifier event and the future generation of players has nothing to aspire to achieve. While other development regions improve as they conduct their qualifiers, the US and the rest of the Americas are left behind."

Durriya Shabbir, a Canada women's player, also spoke out against the move on the Associate and Affiliate Cricket Podcast. "Women's cricket has always been an afterthought," she said. "We've never been given the support from our board that we need to grow this game. Our boards are not doing enough to promote the game. If the ICC walks away from it as well, then what do the women have to look forward to?"

An online petition has been started to get the decision overturned and reinstate the ICC Americas Women's Championship. As of Tuesday, the petition had 248 signatures. Below ICC level though, the USA Cricket Association has not organised a regional or national championship tournament since July 2011 while there is also scant evidence of regional or national events for women's cricket elsewhere in the Americas. Meanwhile, the ICC wants to see evidence of domestic interest and growth across the region before they'll consider restarting the tournament.

Since the ICC Americas Women's Championship was first held in 2007, the ICC claims there have only been 90 new female players at amateur level that have been registered by a combination of the countries in the ICC Americas Women's Division One - USA, Canada, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Argentina and Brazil. These 90 new players were from levels that were low to begin. The USA, a country with more than 300 million people, is estimated to have only 100 registered female players, a number which is made up mainly of expatriates from South Asia and the Caribbean.

The ICC says the member countries in the region were informed during 2013 that the investment money that had previously been spent on running the tournament would be made available to them to fund grassroots projects. "The aim is to increase participation rates, provide more regular domestic playing opportunities for women and girls and ultimately strengthen domestic capacity. It is hoped that an increase in domestic participation will lead to the recommencement of this event in the future."

Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent. @PeterDellaPenna

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 19, 2014, 15:35 GMT

    The women are paying for a total lack of investment and support from the ICC and some of their respective countries boards - especially Canada and the US. On top of this the grass roots initiatives are localized only and serve to support a handful of clubs - many of whom are only moderately interested in developing women's programs. It's really disappointing not to see Cricket Canada or USACA protesting this turn of events but then again they are part of the reason why it's happened. Neither country has a properly developed women's national program - moreover they don't even have a good understanding of how many women are actually playing... and by extension neither does the ICC. It would have been better if the ICC supported the existing women's clubs across the Americas with direct funding programs aimed at recruiting, retention, coaching and club development.

  • Jenny on June 19, 2014, 3:24 GMT

    It is true that the quality of players for the most part in US is really bad. The reason being, there are very few really, who have played anywhere in a professional level. Most folks have just played with their family as a recreational sport when they were growing up, which is no match compared to the likes of "real" teams.

    If folks are really serious about making cricket a real sport in the US (for men or women), then you need to start with the schools. You have to grow with the sport, to be able to be a formidable world class player. Or you'll have to rely on expats from South Asia or Caribbean islands to play.

    The folks who are playing in the women's team have real full time jobs. The amount of effort they put in for the tournaments is really amazing, considering that most times they are paying out of their own pockets. The situation is unfortunate, but you can't really blame ICC for not scheduling a tournament.

  • Duriya on June 18, 2014, 15:40 GMT

    Instead of demanding accountability from the cricket boards in this region as to how they have squandered their women's development budget or what actions they have taken to develop this sport, ICC is penalising the player/coaching community who have worked very hard to learn and introduce this sport.

    Being the ONLY tournament of any national/regional significance this is a reprimand to the players. The administrators have once again gone scot free

    The biggest boards in this region are in a dire financial mess and yet the ICC wants to continue funding them in the name of 'grass roots projects' aka 'line your own pockets'. A tournament surely is a more tangible funding proposition. This more so, as the article points out that the Boards are incapable of organising even a National level championship for the women.

  • Baskar on June 18, 2014, 10:01 GMT

    The ICC is looking at the ground reality -- which is very little progress in the US and Canada on the women's front. In the US, outside of the Georgia Women's Memorial Day tournament which is organized by spirited volunteers and sponsored in part by well-wishers and organizations like ACF, what other regularly held tournaments or league can one point to? What has USACA done for women's cricket since 2012? If you don't have domestic competition to select the best national team, what good is international competition?

  • Shirley on June 17, 2014, 21:45 GMT

    First it was no private T20 competition & now this, YEP, I can clearly see that ICC really have women's cricket as a priority.....OMG!!!If you do not have role models for grassroots to follow you will not have any grass roots!!! DER....

  • dexter on June 17, 2014, 20:15 GMT

    By scrapping the ODI champions trophy last year the ICC came in for heavy criticism as well but it had to be done and it was the right thing to do. The fact of the matter is that almost nothing cricket does is making any real money at all, so hats of to the ICC for the direction it is heading. Most of the men's tornaments are played before tons of empty seats and the women's tournaments are even worse. The organization must continue to ignore the critics who are calling for the continually financial failure and debt policy that the sport has made is culture. Cricket is considered a boring sport by most of the sport loving public, it is long considered very dull by many and has very little fan fare. It is time test and ODI cricket be scrapped of the map, franchise the T20 game in all countries and have a T20 World Cup every 4 years until all the countries are making a profit.

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