The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have today announced the women’s domestic cricket schedule for 2021.
The Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy will return alongside the new Women’s Regional T20 as a new era begins for women’s domestic cricket this summer, with 56 matches to be played across both competitions.
After claiming the inaugural competition title last season, The Ageas Bowl-based Southern Vipers will begin their 2021 Rachael Heyhoe Flint trophy title defence on Saturday 29th May with a home fixture against Loughborough Lightning at The Ageas Bowl. Away matches against South East Stars (Monday 31st May), Central Sparks (Saturday 5th June) and Western Storm (Saturday 12th June) round out the first block of 50-over fixtures.
Following a period of T20 action, Southern Vipers will then return to complete the Rachael Heyhoe Flint league stage, traveling to face Lancashire Thunder (Friday 10th September) and Sunrisers (Sunday 12th September) before returning home for the final group-stage fixture on Sunday 18th September. The competition’s Final is scheduled for Sunday 25th September.
The Women’s Regional T20 is set to commence on Saturday 26th June with the eight teams split into two groups of four and each team playing three home and three away matches during the group stage.
Central Sparks will be Southern Vipers opponents in the competition curtain-raiser at Edgbaston, followed by two home matches against Loughborough Lightning (Saturday 2rd July) and South East Stars (Saturday 9th July). A third consecutive home clash will see Central Sparks (Wednesday 25th August) travel to the south coast, whilst return matches against Surrey Stars (Saturday 28th August) and Loughborough Lightning (Monday 30th August) complete the competition’s group stage. Finals Day is then scheduled to take place on Sunday 5th September.
Charlotte Edwards, Southern Vipers Head Coach, said:
‘I’m incredibly excited for our first full domestic season, on the back of a successful RHF trophy campaign last year. Playing across both 50 over and T20 cricket this season, it presents a great opportunity and platform for all players. We’re all very excited to be playing fixtures all over the country and many matches across our region – the hope being we can welcome fans to as many of our games as possible.’
Adam Carty, Regional Director of Women’s Cricket, said:
‘From what was a truncated yet successful 2020, I’ve been delighted at the progress we have made as a senior squad across a challenging winter. Following a full review of team and individual performances last season, we identified a collective of winter technical, strategic & fitness focuses and our players and coaches alike have worked tirelessly in their pursuit for improvement and growth – I hope the players and staff are rewarded with another competitive campaign across two formats.
“To develop cricketers toward fulfilling their maximum potential remains our primary goal and we are delighted at the ECB’s support at providing such a meaningful platform in 2021 for all to demonstrate their skills.’
England Women are set to host two international series across the summer of 2021, with fixtures to be announced shortly. England player availability throughout the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Women’s Regional T20 competition will be determined by international selection.
Following the popularity of the decision to name last summer’s 50-over competition after one of English cricket’s most revered names, it was decided that the tournament should continue to honour the former England captain and pioneer.
Baroness Rachael Heyhoe Flint OBE led England at the first-ever World Cup in 1973 while off the field her determination for equality laid the foundations for the opportunities presented to modern-day players.
This summer 41 female players have signed full-time professional domestic contracts – in addition to 17 centrally contracted England players – while the launch of The Hundred will establish further opportunity for female cricketers.