Innovations give Connor confidence
England women have “everything in place” to regain the World Twenty20 and retain the World Cup in the next 18 months, according to ECB head of women’s cricket Clare Connor.
Former England captain Connor’s optimism is due to the ECB introducing tour fees and incentivised appearance fees for the England players plus appointing five specialist coaches to work across all women’s and girls’ cricket.
The fees will come into place for the tour of South Africa later this month and the coaches will work to identify high potential players from under-15 level through to the senior team.
Connor told ecb.co.uk: “Everything’s in place for us to go from strength to strength. We’ve always talked about creating a no excuse environment on and off the pitch and I think we’ve taken that to a new level.
“The players have got much more of a career option now in cricket. The support is there: more full-time staff, more specialist staff.
“The future tours programme for the next few years is quite full and really exciting in the build-up to the World Twenty20, with the men in Sri Lanka in September next year, and six months after that our 50-over World Cup where we’ll be looking to retain the 50-over trophy in India.”
Connor explained how the fees, announced yesterday, will help the senior women’s players.
“It means the players can commit more time to what they do: their training, the amount of time they spend in the nets, on skills, or in the gym,” she said.
“It means that now playing cricket for England is a more viable career option and therefore they can dedicate more time - not that they weren’t dedicating a lot of time already - but now that we’re asking nearly 100 days a year of their time.
"It means that they’re being properly rewarded for that. It means they’re being properly rewarded for the amount of time they’re doing the hard yards in preparing to play for England.
“It’s brilliant news. It shows that the ECB board have recognised and celebrated the team's recent successes. It also shows that the board is backing them to continue to be successful on the international stage and that the players are of real value to our sport.”
Connor, who played for England from 1995 to 2005, is curious to see how Charlotte Edwards’ current crop will respond to the innovations.
“We’re always looking to challenge the players in new ways and, as well as it being a fantastic reward, I think it will also be challenge for the players because they’ve never had it before,” Connor added.
“It will be interesting to see how they react, knowing there’s a little bit of money at stake.
"I think we’re confident that they’ve got the values and the right kind of approach to how they play their sport. It won’t jeopardise anything. I think it’ll just add a bit of an edge and a new dimension to what they do.”