Exciting time for the Women’s Game

It’s an exciting time for the women’s game.

With more and more women and girls taking up the sport, it is without a doubt one of the fastest growing aspects of the game.

Someone who knows more than most about the development of the women’s game in the region is Dave Roberts, Head Coach of Somerset Women.

We caught up with him earlier this week and began by looking back on his side’s successful summer.

“Rain made for a frustrating start to the season,” he explained. “The ECB put together a competition over three weekends that were all washed out, which was very disappointing for the girls who don’t get enough cricket anyway.

“Despite this, there were a lot of positives with us playing a Finals Day here at the Cooper Associates County Ground under lights, which was a first such experience for many of the team.

“To win that game convincingly was great especially with a lot of young players who have been involved with the Somerset Pathway in the team.

“The number of girls who have gone on to play for Western Storm or be involved with the EPP programme and the Academy has been a great achievement from a Somerset point of view and there are some good players coming through.

“It was a fantastic move from Somerset’s point of view to have appointed Kieran Peters as Pathway Coach and Women’s and Girls Lead.

“There’s an opportunity now for girls to make a career and a living out of playing cricket which there wasn’t beforehand. To see players like Lauren Filer go on and succeed for England this summer is a big thing. Girls in the region can look at Lauren and say: ‘that’s where I want to be.’”

What will happen during the winter?

“At the moment we don’t have any winter training for the women, it’s just the age group teams in addition to which the girls are involved in so many different things all over the world that it’s difficult to get them all together regularly. We go down the route of getting together for the start of the season for friendlies or net sessions outside.

“With the amount of cricket that there is on offer now, the girls game can only grow even more. If we can also grow the 50-over competition that was put on for women by Western Storm this summer from three or four weekends to nine or ten it would be fantastic.

“We now also have WEPL women’s cricket and the girls are now getting more opportunities. We are now seeing girls who might not have come though until they were older performing well at a younger age and we are selecting them.

“This summer, the Somerset Women’s team only played two T20s, and in the 50-over set up we didn’t have our professionals playing which meant there were opportunities for younger players and there were lots of debuts.

“It was great to have so many young players come into the side and perform. We allowed them to go out, play and enjoy what they’re doing, rather than being put under pressure.”

Is there enough women’s cricket for the Somerset team to play?

“I think there needs to be a little more flexibility. On Sunday’s there is the WEPL Women’s league, so there’s a clash plus there are occasional Academy games, so we have to try to work around things.”

Who were some of the standout players for Somerset Women this year?

“Daisy Jeanes did really well here in the final and she played some really good innings for us. There are some good young players coming through and the squad performed well as a team. I’ve certainly been impressed with what I’ve seen.

“There were some 15 and 16-year-olds making their debuts, which is a real big plus for us. If we can keep playing the right brand of cricket and producing these kinds of players then the team will get better and better.

“The girls look up to the likes of Sophie Luff, and a lot of them have been coached by her. It’s great to have her and Lauren Filer around the group. What Lauren did this summer was very special and something for our young players to aspire to. Niamh Holland is another one who went off to play in the Under 19 World Cup, so there is definitely a pathway for these girls to go on and be successful.”

Finally, how does Dave see the women’s game developing in the next few years?

“What I’d love to see is the girls playing multi-day cricket. That’s where I think it will kick onto next. The Hundred has been a massive success for the women’s game, but I’d like to see a regional team playing three or four-day cricket. Hopefully, that will come.”