Two teams. One Bears.

A new era for the Bears. For the first time, a professional Bears Women’s team will compete alongside our Men’s squad from 2025.

ECB recently announced a multi-million pound plan to expand women’s cricket with the introduction of a three-tier system featuring eight fully professional sides. One of those will be based at Edgbaston.

Bears Women, who will replace the current Central Sparks regional side, will compete in domestic 50-over and T20 competitions from next season.

It will mean more women’s cricket at Edgbaston from 2025, with additional T20 double-headers with the men and standalone fixtures taking place.

Want to be part of the journey? Register your interest now and be the first to hear news about the Bears.

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A new era for the Bears

Laura MacLeod, Central Sparks Director of Cricket, said: “To be able to walk in through the gates here at Edgbaston, proudly wearing the Bear & Ragged Staff, knowing it’s our home, that we’re welcome, supported and have a sense of belonging. That will be amazing.

“Our players want to play an exciting brand of cricket, at big grounds, and in front of passionate crowds. Their talent warrants it. So there’s tangible excitement at that prospect, at making Edgbaston home, and being part of some T20 double headers alongside the men.

“We will continue working with counties and clubs in the West Midlands region, who will form part of the Tier 2 and 3 system, to identify and nurture the best young talent. They will continue to be a key component to the success of our new professional side.”

“We’ve come a long way since the end of my playing days 20 years ago. But better never stops. We’re hungry for more and want to play our part in continuing to evolve the game.”

Laura MacLeod

Director of Cricket

2025 Women’s domestic structure

From 2025, the Women’s domestic structure will be split into three tiers.

Tier 1, the highest tier, will contain eight professional teams competing in domestic 50-over and T20 competitions, featuring the Bears.

Bears Women will train and play within a world-class performance environment at Edgbaston and compete in professional competitions, providing high profile, exciting and vibrant cricket for fans.

ECB has also today announced the selection of two additional First Class Counties to expand Tier 1 from eight to ten teams by 2027, and an intent to grow to 12 teams by the 2029 season.

Who are the Tier 1 Women’s teams?

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed the eight First Class Counties who have been successful in their bid to be awarded Tier 1 women’s team status from 2025.

As a further outcome of the Tier 1 invitation to tender process, the ECB has also today announced the selection of two additional First Class Counties to expand Tier 1 from eight to ten teams by 2027, and an intent to grow to 12 teams by the 2029 season.

The eight selected Counties to compete in Tier 1 of the evolved women’s professional domestic structure from 2025 are:

• Bears
• Durham
• Essex
• Hampshire
• Lancashire
• Nottinghamshire
• Somerset
• Surrey

Joining them, by 2027, will be Glamorgan and Yorkshire, who have been named as the first two Tier 1 expansion teams.

To accelerate Glamorgan and Yorkshire’s Tier 1 preparations between 2025 and 2027, and to enhance access for talented female players across the North East and Wales before such a time the clubs join Tier 1, both Counties will receive additional funding from 2025 to run their own “Tier 1 standard” talent pathway.

The ECB has also set the ambition to expand Tier 1 to 12 teams by 2029, given the rapid growth of the women’s game and the level of passion and desire for the growth of women’s professional cricket demonstrated across the FCC network during this tender process. No decision has been made yet as to where these further two teams would be based.

What will happen with Central Sparks from 2025?

Central Sparks – a West Midlands women’s side featuring players from Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Staffordshire and Shropshire – was formed in 2020 and play home games at both Edgbaston and Worcestershire’s New Road.

At the end of the 2024 season, the Sparks will reform to become a fully professional Bears side.


What competitions will the Bears compete in from 2025?

Bears will compete in domestic 50-over and T20 competitions – currently known as the Charlotte Edwards Cup and Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy – from 2025.

This will see fixtures take place at Edgbaston, including more T20 double-headers with the men’s team.

Until 2028 the competitions will be ‘closed’ with no relegation or promotion.

2024 Bears Women

For the 2024 season, Bears Women will play in regional 50-over and T20 competitions and act as a feeder side for the Central Sparks, who compete in national competitions.

50-over competition – ECB Women’s Counties 50-Over – will take place from April to July, wile the T20 format – Vitality Women’s Club T20 – will run from May to August.

Fixture can be viewed online here.

From 2025, this team will merge will the Central Sparks to create one professional Bears Women squad.

Register your interest

Be part of the journey. Fans can now register their interest to hear news about the Bears Women squad for 2025.

To register, simply fill in the form below.

We can’t wait to welcome you and the new Bears team to Edgbaston next summer.