Thursday, 30 January 2014

The International Women's Championship - A Good Thing, But...

Amid all he hullabaloo surrounding the ICC this week, there's been some interesting news for women's cricket - the announcement of an official 'International Women's Championship' which will to a certain extent decide who gets to compete in the World Cup.

I say "to a certain extent" for a couple of reasons.

First, the system is way-loaded in favour of the existing Top 8. The bottom sides in the IWC won't be relegated directly, but will play-off against the higher-ranked sides in the second tier for the right to appear in the World Cup. (And presumably be part of the top tier in the following cycle.)

Second, as we all know where the ICC are concerned, these rules can become remarkably flexible when needs-be! Would they really allow England or Australia to be relegated? (Clue: No!)

Of course, England or Australia finishing towards the bottom of the IWC is unlikely; but as things stand right now, there is a very real possibility that India could do so; and much as the BCCI have shown their general indifference to women's cricket recently, it is difficult to believe that they or the ICC would allow India to be relegated from the top tier!

Overall though, I think the IWC sounds like A Good Thing(TM) -
  • It will mean more cricket - maybe not for England, who already play more than anyone else - but for the other top sides.
  • It will give additional significance to the bilateral series which occur between World Cups, as teams fight for potentially crucial points.
  • It provides a clear path for the likes of Ireland and Scotland to make progress in the women's game. 
 My one big 'But' concerns that final bullet -
  • Ireland or Scotland making headway would be fantastic; but I do fear what would happen to (say) Pakistan if they end up back in the bottom tier - they've made such progress, and it would be a real pity to lose that by putting them back to Square 1. Of course, for an Ireland or a Scotland to get promoted, someone is going to have to be relegated; but given the fragile state of women's cricket in some of the potential relegation countries, it could be a death-sentence for the game there, and that would be a bitter pill to swallow after everything that's been achieved.

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