Sport

Cricket: Canberra women's competition in disarray despite national success

The Southern Stars and the rise of the Women's Big Bash League have taken women's cricket to unprecedented levels in Australia.

But Eastlake women's captain Petra Bright says sadly that improvement isn't reflected at the grassroots level in the ACT.

Kris Britt is the only Canberra junior in the ACT Meteors squad.
Kris Britt is the only Canberra junior in the ACT Meteors squad. Photo: Matt Bedford

Bright described the Canberra women's competition as being in "disarray" and "dire straits" after two teams dropped out due to lack of numbers to leave it as a four-team competition.

Players are forced to retire when they reach 50 and the competition is at such a low standard that ACT Meteors players play in men's competitions instead.

Bright's biggest concern is the lack of a pathway for promising junior players, who she says are often promoted to senior cricket too soon.

"The biggest issue has been the absence of a juniors competition, primarily because if you haven't got a strong juniors competition or any juniors competition, you have nothing to feed the seniors competition," Bright said.

"While they do have some of a juniors competition, an under-15s, it's not enough to support the seniors. It should have been ticked off five years ago when the under-19s competition folded so that when we get to this crisis point that we're at now we had something to back us up there."

Bright has been involved in women's cricket in Canberra for the past 18 years as a player, team manager, captain and part-time coach and she is also Eastlake's representative on the ACT Women's Cricket Council.

Women's cricket in Canberra changed when the ACT Meteors were admitted into the Women's National Cricket League in 2009-10.

However, the majority of Meteors' players are drawn from outside the ACT and don't have any involvement with the ACT women's competition.

Meteors captain Kris Britt is the only Canberra junior in the Meteors' squad, but 11 of the players are now based in Canberra.

"There was a huge change when the Meteors were created in Canberra and that was when they tried to bring in the two grades and we didn't have the numbers," Bright said.

"I'm not saying one thing caused the other, but there were definitely issues connecting the arrival of the Meteors. I think it's a great thing for cricket in Canberra, but I think Cricket ACT has lost its focus on grassroots level because they've wanted so hard to push for a Meteors competition."

Cricket ACT chief executive Cameron French admitted there were issues with the women's competition, but that it would take "four to five years" to rebuild.

French said there were nearly 4000 girls in the ACT playing in school programs, they had introduced a six-team Meteors junior league starting in a couple of weeks and a future stars Meteors program.

"We've been doing a lot of work on the pathway in women's cricket," French said. "In terms of building a pathway, it's a five-year process, and the first part of the process is making sure your base is very strong.

"We've identified we need to do some work on that and we've done that this year. While they can be fast-tracked to a degree, it will still take four to five years to get it to a level that we're happy with."

French said Cricket ACT hoped that Meteors players would be available to play in the women's competition depending on their schedules with the WNCL and WBBL.

"The Meteors could potentially play on the Friday night in the women's competition and Saturday in the men's competition," French said.

"There's an engagement opportunity as much as a talent development opportunity where the Meteors want to give back to the broader cricket community."