England women’s future needs safeguarding, says national director Claire Connor

Yorkshire’s Katherine Brunt will be hoping to spearhead England’s bowling attack against India this summer

There may have to be less women’s international cricket played in England this summer to “safeguard” its “long-term, sustainable future”, says national director Clare Connor.

Discussions are ongoing with India and South Africa, who are set to play England between June and September.

The regional 50-over competition in September is still being planned for.

“We have got this period to get through and we’ve got to come out of it healthy in every way possible,” said Connor.

There will be no cricket in England until at least 1 July.

England had been due to host India in June and July, before South Africa arrive in September.

Talks are ongoing with India cricket bosses at the BCCI about holding that series later in the summer.

“”I would be devastated if there was no international women’s cricket this summer,” said Connor.

“We need to safeguard future investment into the women’s and girls game to deliver these plans to transform it.

“And so if we have to play less international women’s cricket this summer to safeguard the longer-term future and building the infrastructure for a more stable and sustainable women’s game, that is probably a hit we might have to take.”

There had been concerns that there will be no women’s cricket in 2020 after The Hundred was postponed.

The Hundred had replaced the women’s T20 competition, while the men’s T20 Blast is still being planned for.

The 50-over competition focused around eight new regional hubs, could still take place, with England set to defend their World Cup title in the format in February.

“We have to plan for it not to happen as much as planning for it to happen,” Connor added.

“We’ll have to make the best of what we can put on.

‘We want to show players we care’

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) is considering holding men’s international game behind closed doors at bio-secure venues.

Connor said the women’s game “is completely integrated” in those discussions.

“If the international women’s schedule can’t be fulfilled in full, but a large amount of the men’s programme can and will reduce the [financial] hole, we have to be realistic about that,” Connor said.

“We have long-term ambitions for the game that extends beyond this summer.”

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison told MPs on Tuesday that the pandemic could cost the organisation £380m.

The board announced a £20m investment in the women’s game in October to help fund 40 new full-time professional contracts.

The postponement of the Hundred, however, is a blow, with ex-England captain Charlotte Edwards saying it was “worrying” for the women’s game.

Connor said discussions are ongoing about financial remunerations for the players who had their Hundred contracts cancelled.

“We are looking at, in the interim, how we can show those players that we care and that they are still valued,” Connor said.

“We want to keep them motivated and we don’t want to lose them to other career opportunities that might present themselves to them.

“We are still hopeful of awarding those 40 contracts this year.”

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