"#BeAGameChanger," the ECB tweeted in April this year, when it was nominated by the Women's Sport Trust as National Governing Body of the Year. "History will be made this summer, when the inaugural Kia Super League is launched."
England has a long and chequered history of women's league cricket. Women's leagues have existed in the north of England since the 1920s, organised in places where men's league cricket had traditionally been strong: mainly Lancashire and Yorkshire. Bradford, for example, staged a Women's Evening Cricket League, which by 1932 had 23 teams enrolled. In 1930, Keighley CC of the Bradford League organised the Keighley Ladies' Cricket Competition, a knockout tournament where the cup was provided by the mothers of the Keighley men's team. The Yorkshire Evening Post described one women's league match in 1931 as "a grimly fought out struggle… Bradfordians should roll up in force to encourage their womenfolk in the field".
In some ways the Kia Super League is simply a continuation of this radical tradition of women's league cricket in England. Northern league cricket in the 1930s changed the face of women's cricket for good. Why? Because it was one of the first times that female cricketers in England could receive payment for their activities. While players were not paid directly, collections were made for outstanding performances: in 1930, a Mrs L Wilson was paid £4 in two successive matches, having taken a hat-trick in each.
Similarly, the Super League allows for female domestic cricketers - so often still forced to pay their own way when it comes to playing their sport - to earn match fees and expenses. There will also be prize money for the first time ever in English women's domestic cricket. The prospect has already tempted several ex-international players out of retirement: Laura Newton, Arran Brindle and Rosalie Fairbairn (nee Birch) among them. Fairbairn retired in 2009 at the age of just 25, citing the need to focus on her career, having been offered a full-time post with Chance to Shine as a project manager and PR officer. The fact is, women's cricket is still very rarely lucrative enough for anyone to earn their living from it. Many players, even the best ones, are forced to exit the game early, concerned for their future career prospects.
The Super League might just change all that. While it is important to note that KSL players cannot yet be considered professionals - there is no salary for participants - the ECB has stated that it is its aspiration for it to become so. Ironically the Women's Cricket Association, the governing body of women's cricket before the ECB took over in 1998, was concerned about league cricket in the 1930s precisely because it believed that if female cricket became competitive, it would lead to a seeping professionalisation of the sport - anathema to those who were amateurs in the purest sense of the word.
It didn't happen like that in the end, of course: there simply wasn't enough money invested in the leagues to do so. But perhaps this time around, with the backing of a body as rich as the ECB, things might be different. And if domestic women's cricket can begin to be professionalised, then the sky is the limit.
Even with this uncertainty, though, it is already clear that the Kia Super League, which begins at the end of July, will indeed make history.
Eighty years ago women's league cricket had an extremely limited player pool. Most teams were works sides. The Preston and District League, for example, featured teams from Ensign Lamps, Preston Steam Laundry and Penwortham Mills. It was employer sponsorship, and the provision of high-quality works grounds, that made women's league cricket possible. Thus, while men's league teams could call upon the likes of Learie Constantine to bolster their ranks, doing the same was out of the question for their female counterparts. By contrast, the Super League is built on the principle of the best (from all over England) playing the best.
"Northern league cricket in the 1930s changed the face of women's cricket for good. Why? Because it was one of the first times that female cricketers in England could receive payment for their activities."
Over the coming six-team three-week T20 competition, 72 of the best female players in England will be competing under the banner of Lancashire Thunder, Loughborough Lightning, Southern Vipers, Surrey Stars, Western Storm and Yorkshire Diamonds. And with three international players per team, the best talent from around the world will also be on display. On 12 August, Old Trafford will play host to Hayley Matthews, the star of the Women's World T20 final, giving it some welly for Thunder. Rock up to The Oval on August 4 and Meg Lanning of Stars will be showing exactly why she is widely considered the best female cricketer in the world right now. Suzie Bates will be showing off her power-hitting abilities at the Ageas Bowl on August 8. And if you're Midlands-based, get over to Loughborough University on August 3 or 5 to watch the ridiculously talented Ellyse Perry in action for Lightning.
Even the inaugural, phenomenally successful Women's Big Bash League could not boast such a dazzling list of names. Sadly, unlike in the WBBL - but like with those very first women's leagues back in the 1930s - you're going to have to get along to the grounds in person if you want to watch the games. Sky may have covered a lot of England Women's matches in recent years but it has recently been confirmed that there will be no live TV broadcast of any KSL games this summer - including finals day, August 21.
The apparent logic is that the men's T20 Blast final is the day before, and that it would not be "logistically possible" for Sky to cover both events. And, thanks to the ECB's current broadcast deal with Sky, it is not currently possible for another broadcaster to be approached. For a sport that is seeking to grow its fan base, this is a big mistake.
If we really want KSL to be a game-changer in the long term, then let's (as was hinted at when the competition was announced in June last year) aim to get it on free-to-air TV. Given the viewing figures seen for televised games during the WBBL, this surely isn't much to ask?
For now, though, we'll have to be content with the Super League trying to rival some of the audiences that women's domestic cricket achieved at the height of league popularity in the 1930s (some 8000 spectators attended a match between Lancashire and Yorkshire at Bradford Park Avenue in 1931). In common with the Yorkshire Evening Post, I'd urge not just Bradfordians but Londoners, Lancastrians, Loughburghians and all those in between to "roll up in force and encourage their womenfolk in the field". You're bound to see some exciting cricket.