By Kalika Mehta
Clare Connor, the new England and Wales Cricket Board’s managing director of women’s cricket, has said cultural changes are required within the sport.
The former England captain had been at the head of the women’s game since 2007 and her new role encompass responsibility from grassroots level right the way through to the national team.
With £20m set to be invested in the women’s and girls game for 2020-2021, Connor explained breaking down barriers that have previously been in place for females within cricket was one of the challenges the ECB faces.
“I would love to hear that more women and girls feel a part of the game,” she told SportsWomen.
“Whether it is as a spectator, fan or player that they feel they have got the opportunity to work in cricket, volunteer in it, they feel welcome and feel cricket clubs are as equally the domain of women as they are men.
“Those are not small cultural shift to make, the challenges are significant and the opportunities are amazing.
“In a nutshell if more women and girls felt a part of the game that I love, that we all love at the ECB, then that would be a good four or five years work.”
While Connor’s previous role focused on the elite end of women’s cricket, her larger purview will allow her to make significant changes at lower levels going forward.
With new tournament ‘The Hundred’ replacing the Kia Super League in 2020, currently the only women’s professional domestic competition in England, a key priority for Connor and her team is improving the national structure.
“For the first time probably in the history of the women’s game we’ve got a really significant level of new investment,” she explained.
“It has been made possible through our guaranteed income over the next five years through our broadcast arrangements and a vast majority of that is coming our way, which I think shows the importance that the ECB is placing on the game for women and girls.
“Over the coming months we’ll be working out how exactly we’ll split £20m, which is our initial investment that the board has approved for 2020/21, into those areas along with the big project of realigning our domestic structure.
“We have the luxury of 2019 being a preparatory year ahead of the investment and strategy kick in 2020.
“We have invested heavily into the elite end, into the Kia Super League and those six KSL teams and into central contracts for our roughly 20/21 players.
“We have got to sustain that but balance that with making sure the grass roots end gets investment as well.”