Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Women's cricket not ready for professionalism - ECB chief

School Reporters with the ECB's Clare Connor and Geoff Miller at Lord's
School Reporters with the ECB's Clare Connor and Geoff Miller at Lord's

England's head of women's cricket says the international game is not ready to turn professional yet.

Despite enjoying huge success, including winning the World Cup, England's women players are all amateurs.

"Is it the right thing to turn professional? I am not sure, if I'm honest," Clare Connor, a former England captain, told School Reporters from St Joseph's Catholic High School in Slough.

"If we made the England women's team professional we wouldn't have enough international cricket to play. We wouldn't have other professional teams to play against."

However, the former English teacher admitted that staying amateur posed problems of its own, with female players forced to balance the demands of elite level sport with working.

"It is challenge for all women who play sport at a high level to combine [playing] with a day job," said Connor.

"I think we've got a good balance at the moment where some of our players are contracted to play, but also to coach cricket… which makes their lives easier and more structured."

School Reporters from St. Joseph's Catholic High School at Lord's
The pupils asked their questions in the media room used after Test matches

Clare also told the young journalists about her life in the game but brushed off concerns about sexism within cricket.

"Everyone that I work with and come into contact with is really supportive of women's cricket. In the counties and the clubs, and at the ECB, they really try to give girls equal opportunity to play the game."

The 35-year-old admitted, however, that she had been subjected to jealous taunts as a talented, young cricketer.

"When I was growing up all the cricket I played was in boys' teams," she said.

For girls who have got some ambition to do something that might be seen as out of the ordinary, my advice is to really, really go and get it.
ECB head of women's cricket Clare Connor

"Sometimes there were comments from other boys' parents when I got them out. They didn't like the fact their little darling boy had been bowled out by a girl!"

Clare also offered advice to girls looking to follow in her footsteps as a successful player and official.

"For girls who have got some ambition to do something that might be seen as out of the ordinary, my advice is to really, really go and get it." she said.

"Don't let anyone or anything stand in your path if that's what you really want to do."

Before interviewing Clare and ECB national selector Geoff Miller, the School Reporters were given a guided tour around Lord's, taking in the players' changing rooms and the historic Long Room, in addition to the world's oldest sporting museum.

Under the guidance of BBC staff, the Year 7 School Reporters also learnt broadcasting skills, including how to formulate interview questions.



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