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News

Knight implores administrators to invest in women's internationals to counter franchise threat

England captain hints chance to play "less cricket for more money" could undermine international game

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
21-Dec-2022
"It's all about money, isn't it?"  •  CWI Media

"It's all about money, isn't it?"  •  CWI Media

Heather Knight has implored cricket's administrators to invest in women's international cricket to ensure it remains "the pinnacle of the game" against the backdrop of several franchise leagues launching in 2023.
The inaugural seasons of the Women's IPL and the PCB's Women's T20 League will both be held in March, after the conclusion of the T20 World Cup in South Africa, joining the Hundred, WBBL, Fairbreak Invitational and Women's CPL as major short-form leagues providing opportunities for overseas players.
Knight's England side have spent this month on a low-key tour to the Caribbean and are looking to clinch a 5-0 T20I sweep in Barbados on Thursday night, having previously won the ODI series 3-0.
The tour has played out in front of small crowds with limited media interest and broadcast coverage reliant on CWI's live stream. Knight said that investment is required in order to ensure that the international game retains primacy over franchise tournaments.
"It's all about money, isn't it? It's so important to keep the international game really strong," Knight said. "There's obviously a lot of changes on the horizon with franchise competitions: IPL, PSL, lots of those kicking off. It's really important that international cricket is looked after and it's strong in all countries and it's still the pinnacle of the game, which it obviously still is.
"But you see the changes that are happening in the men's game and actually, I think the changes in the women's game could affect things more if people decide to go down the franchise route and play less cricket for more money, potentially.
"I think international cricket needs to be looked after and it might affect the women's game more with the difference in professionalism around the world and the difference in some teams in the depth, because of the differences in domestic leagues and things like that. It's been a little reminder, I think, that international cricket really needs to be looked after and invested in."
Teams have not had access to a third umpire or the Decision Review System throughout Caribbean the tour, which Knight described as "almost like going back in time". She said: "You just become used to it and you take it for granted that you have those things - like in domestic competitions back home. But ultimately, it's all about money, isn't it? And money available to put into those resources.
"It has felt like a weirdly low-key tour… no media out here, not a huge amount of coverage. It's felt like we've been able to go about our business. Obviously with the [T20] World Cup coming up, it's going to be very different and we'll be very much in the spotlight. It's been a bit of a strange one."
Knight provided an encouraging update on Alice Capsey's fitness, suggesting that she remains in contention for England's World Cup squad despite leaving the tour early after suffering a broken collarbone in the first ODI. "We're still hoping Alice will be fit for the World Cup, but it's going to be quite tight," she said.
She also hailed the "new and fresh" atmosphere since Jon Lewis' appointment as head coach, though conceded that West Indies had struggled to compete. "We haven't massively been challenged, which is a shame, but I think we've done a lot of things really well and a lot of boxes that we wanted ticking have been ticked.
"The West Indies have put us under pressure in the last couple of games. In terms of growing as a side, you always want to be under pressure and win those tight games because it sharpens you up, but when we haven't had that, we've tried to create a few things where we put ourselves under pressure and have tried a few different things.
"[But] winning is great: you get so much confidence and momentum from winning so that's really important. I think we've done as much as we can this trip, and then we'll have a few games pre the World Cup to fine tune things and get super-ready come that first game."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98