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Kent respond after county misses out on initial tier-one professional women’s team position awarded by the England & Wales Cricket Board

Simon Philip has described Kent missing out in their bid for a tier-one women’s team as a “difficult” pill to swallow.

Kent confirmed their intention to submit a bid to the England & Wales Cricket Board to become one of eight counties with a professional women’s team from the 2025 season earlier in the year.

Kent director of cricket Simon Cook. Picture: Kent Cricket
Kent director of cricket Simon Cook. Picture: Kent Cricket

But at an England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) meeting on Wednesday, the recommendation of the selection panel was ratified by the board.

The eight initial tier-one positions were awarded to Lancashire, Durham, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Surrey, Essex, Hampshire and Somerset.

Kent also understands, by 2027, tier one will be expanded to 10 teams to include Glamorgan and Yorkshire.

In 2029, the ECB aims to expand the top tier to 12 teams - although the criteria for expansion isn’t confirmed.

Philip, Kent’s chairman, said: “As the most successful county team in the history of women’s cricket, offering the only dedicated women’s performance centre at Beckenham and based in a highly diverse South-east London population of 1.2 million people, the decision is difficult to swallow.

Kent Women celebrates a wicket at Canterbury’s Spitfire Ground. Picture: Kent Cricket / Ian Scammell
Kent Women celebrates a wicket at Canterbury’s Spitfire Ground. Picture: Kent Cricket / Ian Scammell

“With nine of the 80 players selected in The Hundred in 2024 emerging from the Kent pathway, it’s hard to accept that - at least for the next four years - they will have to ply their trade elsewhere to further their professional careers.

“While this decision will take some getting over, we remain committed to women’s and girls’ cricket and are determined to not let it hamper our long-term ambitions for Kent Cricket, Beckenham, and our women’s and girls’ game.

“However, this is a deeply disappointing day for the club and our players who wanted an opportunity to wear the White Horse at the highest level.”

Kent chief executive Simon Storey said: “I would like to pay tribute to our hard-working and experienced bid team who put together a comprehensive and professional bid, which had the support of the board and our key stakeholders.

“Despite our disappointment, the club remains wholly committed to the growth of women’s and girls’ cricket across the county, spanning from grassroots to our talent pathway.

Kent men’s side in One-Day Cup action at Beckenham last year. Picture: Kyle Andrews Photography
Kent men’s side in One-Day Cup action at Beckenham last year. Picture: Kyle Andrews Photography

“We will continue to invest in the Girls Talent Pathway, providing young, aspiring female cricketers across our county with a promising cricketing future from under-11 to under-18 level.

“We’re incredibly proud of our history, producing outstanding young players who have progressed to play regional and franchise cricket and gone onto represent England and we will continue to do so.

“We’re committed to building a competitive squad and a strong women’s and girls’ infrastructure which will enable Kent to compete on-field for a place in tier one on merit, once the pyramid opens up to promotion and relegation.

“Work will also continue with our vision to transform The County Ground, Beckenham, into becoming a venue to host a potential third Hundred team in London alongside a future tier-one Women’s cricket home for Kent.”

Kent’s bid outlined the scale of opportunity to grow cricket in Kent and London with a dedicated performance centre and state-of-the-art training facilities based at The County Ground, Beckenham - the current base of the women’s regional team, South East Stars.

This was supported by data showing a combined population in Kent and four London Boroughs of almost three million people, connectivity both north and south of the River Thames, and credible data suggested London has capacity for three major cricket venues.

Kent’s tier-one team would have been underpinned by a modern and robust governance model consisting of a new sub-company overseen by a dedicated and diverse board of directors and a financially sustainable business model built on a growing local community fan-base and a committed major commercial partnership with a globally recognised brand.

Speaking last month, Kent director of cricket Simon Cook said: “You don’t enter a bid process to lose or to fail, so we are confident that we will end up with a tier-one team.

“We feel we have got a strong bid because of Beckenham. That’s a huge asset for us.

“It gives women’s cricket a home and a focus, where we can kind of launch the next phase of women’s cricket in Kent.

“No other county has got that facility or a facility close to that.

“All the other bids will be based around playing a little bit at the home ground, playing a bit at the outground, maybe in a school, and that’s why we are confident.

“That’s why we think we should be awarded a tier-one team.”

The club is awaiting further details from the ECB on the transition process. There is already a strong partnership in place in the women’s and girls’ game between Surrey and Kent.

Both have jointly-supported the South East Stars since the team was launched in 2020.

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