Shep Trust grant crucial to success of Devon Women’s development programme

A £3,000 grant from the David Shepherd Cricket Trust will help Devon’s young women’s and girls’ cricketers compete against the best in the summer ahead.

Devon run girls’ cricket from under-13 level up to an adult side that currently competes in the ECB County Championship.

A stepping-stone from age-group cricket into the Championship side is a Development XI run on similar lines to the Lions programme run by Devon’s men.

Devon play most of the leading women’s counties and the Trust grant will help fund their playing costs in 2019.

“We have fixtures against Somerset, Western Storm, Wales, the University of Exeter and compete in the Wellington College Festival against sides like Surrey and Middlesex,” said Warren Carr, Devon’s director of women’s cricket.

“By playing against the best we prepare our next generation of women’s cricketers for the challenges ahead. The Shepherd Trust grant helps us play the level of fixtures we need.”

Women’s cricket faces an uncertain future with the likely scrapping of the County Championship in 2020 and a switch to a regional cricket competition featuring 8-10 teams. Exact details have yet to emerge from the ECB.

What Devon can be sure of is there will still be a demand for talented women’s cricketers to feed the regional competition, which makes maintaining the Development XI a must.

Carr said the Trust grant will help the county’s best young cricketers hone their skills.

“We are told the Kia Super League is going to vanish next year and be replaced by a 100-ball competition similar the one proposed for men’s cricket,” said Carr.

“The ECB have said there will be no county championship along the existing lines – and if there is any county cricket for us it will probably be a South West Championship of four or five counties.

“The best cricketers will be skimmed off for the regional competition. Although Western Storm will be going, I hope there will be a regional team based in our part of the world in the new set-up.

“Devon has traditionally been a strong county for women’s cricket and I would be surprised and disappointed if we are not well represented in any future regional set up, wherever that may be based.”

Carr can back up his claims with facts as Devonians Emma Corney, Olivia Churcher, Rebecca Halliday and Sophie Florides are all attached to the latest Western Storm academy – proof the Devon system works.

Devon’s women have to raise thousands of pounds a year to fund the Development programme as they receive no funding at all from ECB. An average away game costs more than £1,100 to fulfil in expenses.

Carr said the grant from the Shepherd Trust took pressure off the players, who have been hard at work fund-raising over the winter.

“The grant is a great help as it means the players can concentrate on preparing for the game they need to play and the coaches are coaching them,” said Carr.,

“The girls have worked hard themselves to raise £2,500 themselves so far from sponsored events such as a cyclethon, a bag pack and a T20 fantasy league.”

The last fund-raising event of the winter is a golf day at Tiverton GC on Saturday, April 14.

Carr can still find room for teams in the four-ball competition. Contact him on warren.carr@devoncricket.co.uk to enter a team.

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