England women hopeful of playing behind-closed-doors matches this summer
England women’s players could return to training as early as next month as managing director Clare Connor revealed they are committed to completing as much of the international schedule as possible.
Connor also suggested England are considering hosting a Women’s Tri-Series also involving India and South Africa later in the summer.
India were scheduled to travel for white-ball assignments in June and July while South Africa are due over in September but a possible alternative to those series involves a condensed programme between the three nations.
Nothing is concrete as the England and Wales Cricket Board grapples with the implications of the coronavirus pandemic, with Connor admitting earlier this month that there may have to be fewer international women’s fixtures this summer in order to safeguard its long-term future.
But the managing director of women’s cricket was altogether more upbeat over a Zoom call, in which she spoke to promote the ‘Together Through This Test’ initiative, which aims to shine a light on the sport’s unsung heroes during the public health crisis.
Connor told the PA news agency: “We’re still really committed to being able to play as much as of our international women’s programme later on in the summer.
“Whether that’s two separate series against India and South Africa or even a tri-series, which is something we are exploring.
“All we can do is make the plans to be able to play and work with the venues that are likely to be involved in putting on that behind-closed-doors programme.”
The ECB confirmed up to 18 male bowlers will take part in staggered training sessions across seven county grounds from Thursday in what will be the first major step towards England hosting international cricket this summer.
Connor believes the women’s side are a few weeks behind following similar measures but added that the lag could prove instructive for the backroom team.
She added: “Those same individualised return to training protocols will apply to the women’s players.
“We’re looking to follow a very similar phased approach from later on in June so we’ll probably be three to four weeks behind the England men’s players.
“That’s not through any lesser importance being placed on them but more of a reality of who’s likely to play first and where we need to focus the immediate attention and physical and medical support.
“At least it will give our players, support staff and medical staff a chance to learn from how all that unfolds with the men.”
Women’s cricket has enjoyed a transformative past few years, evidenced when 86,174 crammed into the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March to witness the T20 World Cup final between Australia and India.
Connor added: “Across women’s sport that’s developed over the last five years, it’s developed for a reason because people believed in a more equal offer, people see the growth and commercial in it.
“We’ve believed in all of that over the last five to 10 years, and we should continue to believe in it.”
Connor is heading the ‘Together Through This Test’ scheme which highlights how the cricket community have rallied together through the current crisis and has three focus areas for the future: physical and mental health, children and education, and connecting communities.
Connor added: “The campaign is not only about sharing the hundreds of initiatives that the cricket family have run to date, it is about providing ongoing support and resources to those in need in the coming months.
“Whether they be parents battling with the home-schooling effort, those who need mental health support or NHS workers who could benefit from a home-baked cricket tea waiting for them at the end of a long shift!
“All of this and more can be found on our resource hub: www.ecb.co.uk/covid-19.”
Ali Orr helps Sussex to five-wicket win over Derbyshire
The 21-year-old opener was helped by partners Tom Alsop and Mohammad Rizwan.
Issy Wong living the dream as late wickets boost England against South Africa
The 20-year-old fast bowler made an impact on a rain-affected day three at Taunton.
England frustrated by the weather on third day of South Africa Test
South Africa were 51 for three at the close of play.
Issy Wong’s late double keeps England in control at Taunton
.England were rewarded for their patience during a lengthy rain delay.
James Anderson: England’s new-found confidence unlike anything I’ve seen before
Anderson first played for his country in 2002 and has lived through more than his fair share of new eras, reboots and fresh starts.
England paceman James Anderson keen to prove fitness ahead of India Test
The 39-year-old sat out the final match against New Zealand at Headingley due to concerns over his left ankle but says it now feels “pretty good”.
Andrew Gale ‘not willing to engage’ in ‘tainted’ ECB racism disciplinary process
Gale denied Azeem Rafiq’s allegations against him and described him as an “embittered former colleague”.
Michael Vaughan ‘steps back’ from BBC work after staff raise concerns
The former England captain had recently returned to Test Match Special coverage.
Simon Harmer bowls Essex to thrilling win while Surrey dominate Kent
Spinner Harmer took 15 wickets in the match as his side held off Hampshire by 12 runs.
Sciver stars and Davidson-Richards makes history – day two in the women’s Test
The England pair’s maiden Test centuries took their side past South Africa’s total at Taunton.