With no final, probably no future and very little fanfare, Kent romped through to the Royal London Women's County One-Day Championship crown with a game to spare. A six-wicket win over Lancashire made it six wins from six, sealing a record eighth title of what is likely to be the final One-Day County Championship in the women’s game.
Captained by England’s Tammy Beaumont, the win, with more than six overs to spare, capped off a fine season for an outfit that has claimed its first title since the departure of former England captain Charlotte Edwards in 2016. Shrewd recruiting, combined with a strong mix of experience and exciting talent, gave Kent a well-balanced side, which was ultimately enough to see off any threat from second-placed Yorkshire.
Unlike men’s county cricket, the women’s version is entirely amateur and features only limited-overs cricket, with the longer format only played at international Test level.
In line with the restructuring of the men’s domestic game however, the current 50-over and Twenty20 competitions are set to be reorganised in favour of a regional competition alongside the new ‘The Hundred’ format.
It is part of an initial £20 million investment (with aims of £50 million over four years) by the ECB which the governing body hopes is the first step of many towards the semi-professionalisation of the domestic women’s game.
It has not been without its controversies however as many counties vehemently opposed initial plans to abolish women’s county cricket altogether and there remains concern around the uncertainty brought by the ECB’s decision not to finalise next year’s structure of women’s domestic cricket until the end of this season at the earliest.
Meanwhile, amid all the ambiguity one thing is certain; Middlesex will play a competitive women’s county match for the first time ever on the main ground at Lord’s on Wednesday, when they contest Surrey for the annual London Cup. 142 years after the county’s men’s team first played at the venerable ground, the women will take to the famous turf at 4pm, four years after Surrey first hosted the match at the Oval. Small, but progressive, steps.