Published: 12:09, 06 November 2019
| Updated: 13:06, 06 November 2019
A fierce debate has broken out over a decision to make a transgender player Kent's women cricketer of the year.
Maxine Blythin, the county's first transgender cricketer, received the award after after scoring 340 runs in the team's County Championship triumph.
The decision has led to a huge debate about fairness in sport, involving former tennis star Martina Navratilova, TV presenter Piers Morgan and outspoken media personality Katie Hopkins.
Former Apprentice star Hopkins sent a message to her 1.1 million followers describing it as 'another kick in the ovaries for biological females everywhere.'
It added: "What is wrong with you @KentCricket? Our daughters deserve better than this ******."
But Kent's women's team skipper Tammy Beaumont hit back, saying: "Completely disagree. Cricket is a sport for all and no one should be excluded because of who they are.
"Using your platform to spread an ill-informed opinion and factually inaccurate article like this is will only add to the discrimination and abuse she's already come across.
"ECB have a clear policy on trans sportspeople."
The Dover resident added: "If you have an issue with that policy then that is up to you, but don't take it out on individuals.
"As far as I'm aware there's no conclusive proof of any 'advantages' of being a trans woman in cricket.
"Personally I'm proud to call her my teammate and my friend. So please attempt don't speak for me or my ovaries."
Former tennis player Martina Navratilova, who won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, also joined the debate.
She said the award was 'so unfair and totally wrong.'
The Czech star added: "Clearly self i.d. cannot be the determining factor of which category one belongs."
Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan waded in, saying: "As I keep warning, if sports authorities don’t deal with this issue properly then women’s sport is dead. This cannot be fair."
Trans women players are only tested for testosterone levels if they are selected to play for England in line with England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) rules.
But campaigning group Fair Play For Women has said the policy is unfair at a time when the game is improving opportunities for female players.
The issue has also led to a huge debate on website Mumsnet. Many posters said 6ft Maxine had an advantage over other women's cricketers, with one saying:"How anyone can look at this and see fair play is beyond me, If you’re a teen girl what message does this send? No point trying. Sport is not for you."
And posting on the KentOnline Facebook page, John Hardy said: "Tricky one this, because Hopkins is vile and thrives on controversy to help keep herself in the limelight.
"However, I think she has a point here as a woman who was once a powerful man now playing against genetically less powerful opponents is bound to raise concerns just like Caster Semenya does in Athletics.
"Obviously Tammy Beaumont is going to defend her teammate but I wonder how supportive she’d be if she lost her place in the team to Maxine Blythin."
KentOnline has asked Kent County Cricket Club for a comment.
More by this authorIan Johns