ECB names six Women's Super League hosts
The ECB has announced the six host teams for the inaugural Women's Cricket Super League which will take place during the English season.
There will be three teams in the south - one based with Surrey at The Oval, another with Hampshire and a third in the South West - two in the north with Lancashire and Yorkshire and one in the Midlands run by Loughborough University. The South West features a joint bid between Somerset and Gloucestershire, while a joint Middlesex/MCC bid missed out for the one London-based team.
The six teams have been awarded hosting rights for the period 2016-19. To begin with it the WCSL will feature just T20 but 50-over cricket will be included in the future.
John Stephenson, MCC's head of cricket, said: "Having submitted a joint bid with Middlesex, naturally MCC is disappointed with today's outcome. Hopefully the club can play an active part in the tournament in the years ahead."
Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, said: "This is a key day in the creation of the Women's Cricket Super League - we have now secured the six hosts for the start of the competition this summer.
"It is pleasing to see so much diverse and innovative partnership working across the cricket and educational landscapes and that the six chosen hosts provide such a strong geographical spread. To have seven First Class counties, five Non-First Class counties and three universities involved, demonstrates how collaborative, imaginative and wide-ranging this project is."
Clare Conner, the director of women's cricket, added: "Our vision for the Women's Cricket Super League is to create an exciting, dynamic and high quality domestic women's game in England, where the world's best players come together to drive performance standards and to inspire women and girls to love cricket.
"All six of the confirmed hosts have passionately demonstrated that they share this aspiration and we are now really excited to work with them to deliver this next stage in the evolution of women's cricket in this country."
The WSL follows the introduction of the Women's Big Bash in Australia. That tournament is run in conjunction with the men's BBL, but the WCSL is not directly linked to the men's domestic structure.
"Whilst there are similarities in the drivers behind the Women's Cricket Super League and Women's Big Bash League - wanting to further raise standards of performance and encourage participation - they are very different in their identity and formation," Connor said.
"The WBBL is an extension of the men's Big Bash League, and it has benefited in terms of infrastructure, operations, personnel and brand recognition, amongst other things. The WCSL is an entirely new proposition for cricket in this country. It's a fresh chapter for the sport and we are all hugely excited that the women's game is pioneering it."
Sussex claim to have given more opportunities to female cricketers in their Academy than any other first-class county. They said their decision to support Hampshire rather than put in their own bid was for "strategic reasons".
The tournament will be run from July 30 to August 14 with each team playing each other home and away with the top four sides reaching Finals Day.