Expansion on the horizon

The Dandenong Women''s premiership team for 2020/21. Picture: CHRIS THOMAS

By Nick Creely

Cricket Victoria (CV) is exploring the option of expanding the Women’s Premier Cricket competition, with the board to consider applications.

With the Women’s Premier Cricket competition continuing to set the benchmark across Australia, the decision has come in response to the ongoing growth and development of cricket for women and girls in Victoria.

While CV has floated that the expansion of the competition for next season (2021/22) is a possibility, it needs to ensure that the standard of the existing competition – which currently hosts eight clubs, including Dandenong who won the premiership recently – continues to grow and that established clubs are well placed to be competitive.

CV has confirmed that applications for entry into the competition will only be accepted from Men’s Premier Cricket clubs, which have already existing elite facilities and preparation envrionment. This would theoretically open the door for local Premier club Casey-South Melbourne to potentially bring a Women’s side into the competition.

At this stage, if a club was accepted into the competition it would join the league initially through 2nd and 3rd XI cricket before a transition into the top-grade in subsequent seasons.

Cricket Victoria chair Dr David Maddocks said the expansion now and in the future made perfect sense based on current evidence.

“The participation of women and girls in cricket has been strong for several seasons now, particularly in metropolitan areas. It’s incumbent on us to look at ways we can offer more playing opportunities for new players coming through the system,” Maddocks said.

“We’ve had ongoing interest from a number of clubs in the idea of expansion. It’s an exciting time when there is real momentum to continue building on what has been achieved to date. Women’s Premier Cricket remains an outstanding foundation for some of Australia’s best players.”

Maddocks stressed that with the growth of the WBBL, more international women’s fixtures and elite pathways, now was the time to make these considerations.

“This is not just a matter of growth for growth’s sake,” he said.

“Our data and our conversations with stakeholders throughout club cricket is that we are at a point where this can now be considered. Inspired by Australia, the WBBL or playing for Victoria, we have emerging talent that will be knocking down the door in the next couple of years and we want to ensure we can cater for that.

“This decision is about future growth and is clearly not a reflection of the quality of existing teams in the competition that are not part of the men’s competition like Box Hill, Essendon-Maribyrnong Park and Plenty Valley.

These clubs have proud traditions of success which will continue. This decision simply allows us to address planning for future expansion.”