England Women cricketers hopeful of behind-closed-doors matches in summer

England Women players could return to training next month as managing director Clare Connor revealed they are committed to completing as much of the international schedule as possible.

Connor also suggested England are considering hosting a Women’s Tri-Series involving India and South Africa later in the summer.

India were scheduled to travel for white-ball assignments in June and July while South Africa are due over in September but a possible alternative to those series involves a condensed programme between the three nations.

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Nothing is concrete as the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) grapples with the implications of the coronavirus pandemic, with Connor admitting earlier this month there may have to be fewer international women’s fixtures this summer in order to safeguard its long-term future.

But the managing director of women’s cricket was altogether more upbeat over a Zoom call, in which she spoke to promote the Together Through This Test initiative, which aims to shine a light on the sport’s unsung heroes during the public health crisis.

“We’re still really committed to being able to play as much as of our international women’s programme later on in the summer,” Connor told PA Media.

“Whether that’s two separate series against India and South Africa or even a tri-series, which is something we are exploring.

“All we can do is make the plans to be able to play and work with the venues that are likely to be involved in putting on that behind-closed-doors programme.”

The ECB confirmed up to 18 male bowlers will take part in staggered training sessions across seven county grounds from Thursday in what will be the first major step towards England hosting international cricket this summer.

Connor believes the women’s side are a few weeks behind following similar measures but added that the lag could prove instructive for the backroom team.

She added: “Those same individualised return to training protocols will apply to the women’s players.

“We’re looking to follow a very similar phased approach from later on in June so we’ll probably be three to four weeks behind the England men’s players.

“That’s not through any lesser importance being placed on them but more of a reality of who’s likely to play first and where we need to focus the immediate attention and physical and medical support.

“At least it will give our players, support staff and medical staff a chance to learn from how all that unfolds with the men.”

Women’s cricket has enjoyed a transformative past few years, evidenced when 86,174 crammed into the Melbourne Cricket Ground in March to witness the T20 World Cup final between Australia and India.

Plans for investing heavily in women’s cricket will be protected despite the economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis.

“I remain really confident that the momentum we’ve built behind the women’s and girls’ game will be protected to the absolute best of our endeavors,” Connor added.

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