Suffolk Women aiming for a strong season

April 18, 2024

SUFFOLK women are aiming to put themselves in ‘the best place possible’ with the current restructure taking place of the women’s game in this country.

The ECB has just announced the eight counties that will host professional women’s teams as part of a major re-organisation of the domestic game from next year.

They initiated an overhaul of women’s cricket by extending invitations to all 18 first-class counties and the MCC to submit bids for ownership of regional women’s teams.

It was announced yesterday that Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey and Warwickshire have all been awarded Tier 1 status.

They will be joined by Glamorgan and Yorkshire in 2027 as part of an expansion, with the ECB stating it intends to add a further two teams in 2029.

The significant overhaul is the third in the past eight years and is aimed at rebranding and enhancing both professionalism and financial standing starting from 2025.

Those first-class counties not awarded Tier 1 status will participate in determining the structure of the Tier 2 and Tier 3 competitions along with the National Counties.

There will be 10-14 teams in Tier 2 and 16-20 teams in Tier 3.

Lara Neild, who has been appointed Suffolk skipper for the 2024 season, is hoping Suffolk can show their credentials in the forthcoming campaign.

She said: “We want to perform the best we can this season so that we are in the best place possible for 2025 with the re-organisation of women’s cricket.

“Our aspirations are to finish as high as we can in the 50-over competition, which is our strongest of the two formats.

“In the T20 competition we will look to play a positive band of cricket with lots of intent.”

Neild is also looking forward to playing against some different counties this summer.

She said: “It will be exciting to play against different opponents – counties we have not played for a while – as we will face Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Kent, Surrey and Sussex this season.

“We are strong when we play against other National Counties, but it is more challenging playing against the first-class counties.

“We want to be one of the top National Counties in the country. We will certainly be aiming to finish in the top three of the 50-over competition and be challenging for the title.”

Two years ago Suffolk won both the T20 and 50-over competitions thanks to the contributions of Australian all-rounder Lauren Smith, who represented Suffolk while playing for Woolpit CC.

Suffolk staged a squad get-together at the Victory Ground in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday which featured a T20 practice match involving members of the Women’s and U18 sides. The two teams are pictured above shaking hands after the match.

Neild, who skippered Suffolk in the second half of last season in the absence of skipper Natalie Samuels, will lead Suffolk for the first time this Sunday since being officially appointed captain.

Suffolk travel to Hertfordshire for their opening fixture in the ECB 50-over competition.

They then face fixtures versus Lincolnshire at Woolpit CC, away to Buckinghamshire and at home to Leicestershire at Stowmarket CC.

The T20 competition will be played in four blocks of two matches on the same day, starting with games against Kent and hosts Essex.

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