A professional Bears Women’s team will join Warwickshire from next season after the Club won its bid for one of eight sides that will play in a new national structure.

Earlier this year the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced a multi-million pound plan to expand women’s cricket with the introduction of a three-tier system featuring eight fully professional sides.

Clubs were invited to pitch for one of the eight Tier 1 teams – and the ECB has now revealed one of those will be based at Edgbaston.

Chief Executive Stuart Cain said the move is an important milestone for women’s cricket nationally and in the region.

He added: “This is brilliant news and gives the region a top level Bears Women’s team on a par with Aston Villa Women in top level football. More importantly, it will inspire future generations of girls to pursue a career in cricket and bring new fans to the sport.

“We’ve passionately supported women’s cricket for a number of years and seen some of the biggest crowds in women’s cricket at Edgbaston for last year’s Ashes and before that the Commonwealth Games.  

“In fact, we go back even further, working with Wolverhampton’s Rachael Heyhoe-Flint to hold the first ever Women’s World Cup at Edgbaston in the 1970s.  

“We also brought together the first ever all-women grounds team for last year’s Ashes game as part of our Edgbaston for Everyone pledge.

“Not only is this an exciting move for existing players, but inspirational for girls in our county age groups. They now have a clear path through our excellent youth and Academy systems into professional cricket and hopefully beyond to international cricket.

“The ECB has acknowledged the time is right to develop and expand the women’s game, to continue accelerating performance standards, and make England Women’s cricket the best in the world. We’re grateful for the opportunity to be part of this movement that we’ve long championed.”

Top tier clubs will compete in domestic 50-over and T20 competitions – currently known as the Charlotte Edwards Cup and Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy – and until 2028 the competitions will be ‘closed’ with no relegation or promotion.

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.

The Sparks will reform at the end of this season to become a fully professional Bears side.

Laura MacLeod, 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. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d get to where we are now.

“But better never stops. I’m hungry for more and want to play my part in continuing to evolve the game.”

Find out more and register to receive latest news about Bears Women at edgbaston.com.

Over 13,000 sold for Women’s IT20 vs Pakistan

Pakistan Women will be in Birmingham on Saturday 11 May 2024 and over 13,000 tickets have already been sold.

With the Men’s IT20 already sold out, this is your last chance to see Pakistan at Edgbaston next summer and tickets are available from only £17, with under 16s £5.