Surrey awarded new elite women's team but Middlesex and Lord's miss out

Surrey were one of eight successful first-class counties (Getty Images)
Surrey were one of eight successful first-class counties (Getty Images)

Surrey have been awarded one of English cricket’s eight new “Tier 1” women’s teams, but Middlesex have missed out on a side.

The England & Wales Cricket Board today confirmed the eight first-class counties whose applications to host one of the new teams has been successful, with Durham, Essex, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset and Warwickshire the other clubs chosen to head a major shakeup of the women’s domestic game.

At present, the eight elite regional teams are owned and funded centrally by the ECB, but from next year a new three-tier system will come into place, with ownership of the clubs transferred back to the counties and their brands aligned with the respective men’s teams.

“Through this process we’ve seen a huge appetite from First Class Counties to have a women’s professional team, and a real commitment to growing women’s and girls’ cricket in this country,” said ECB chief executive Richard Gould.

Of the 18 first-class counties, 16 submitted bids to host a women’s team earlier this year, with Worcestershire and Derbyshire the only pair not to do so.

While Surrey’s inclusion means the capital will have a Tier 1 team based at the Oval, Middlesex - and therefore Lord’s - have effectively been overlooked in favour of Essex.

Lord’s will not host Tier 1 cricket in the  women’s domestic game (AFP via Getty Images)
Lord’s will not host Tier 1 cricket in the women’s domestic game (AFP via Getty Images)

Yorkshire are another high-profile omission - with Durham instead selected in the north - but the ECB have announced that both the Headingley club and Glamorgan will join Tier 1 when the division expands to ten teams in 2027. A further expansion to 12 teams is planned for 2029, but no decision has yet been made over where the two extra sides will be based.

The first-class counties who missed out on Tier 1 teams are expected to join the national counties in hosting teams in the lower two tiers, with their exact structure to be decided later this year.

“More professional teams means more women able to make a career out of being a cricketer, more role models to inspire future generations, and more of the country having a women’s professional team to follow nearby,” Gould added.

“I recognise today’s announcement will also be disappointing to those who haven’t been successful at this stage. But with the new three-tier structure we are introducing, there is still a huge opportunity for them to compete in the other tiers so together we can all realise the potential of women’s domestic cricket.”

Surrey says its ambition is for its new women’s team to play half of its matches at the Oval from next year, mainly T20s as both standalone fixtures and as part of double-headers with the men’s side.

Other matches will for now take place at Guildford CC and LSE New Malden, though the county is already exploring plans for a second home ground.

""It has been a key priority for Surrey to have the opportunity to run a fully professional women’s team for the first time in the 180-year history of the Club and we are absolutely delighted to have been trusted to do so,” said Surrey chair Oli Slipper.

“Women’s cricket has phenomenal growth potential, and we believe it is a significant opportunity for the sport to bring in new fans.

“The ambitions for our women’s team will be just the same as the men: to develop the superstars of tomorrow through our talent pathway who will play for the Club and go on to represent their country; to win trophies on the pitch and to win fans off it.”