ECB Unveil 2021 Fixtures for Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Women’s Regional T20

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Today, the ECB announced the 2021 season fixtures for the Elite Women’s game, unveiling the Sunrisers fixtures for the season ahead.

Sunrisers will once again compete in the fifty-over Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy, as well as a newly launched Women’s Elite twenty-over competition this season.

The Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy bookends the season, with Sunrisers group campaign getting underway in the fifty over competition, with four matches between May 29th and 12th June, and ending with a further three fifty-over group encounters at the end of the season, between 10th and 18th September.

Sandwiched in-between both fifty-over blocks, Sunrisers will play six group T20 matches in the height of the summer in the newly formed competition, between 26th June and 30th August.

The Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy will see all eight Regional teams play each other once in the group stage, leading to a final, to be held on 25th September. The top side in the group of eight will automatically qualify for the final, with the sides finishing second and third fighting it out in a play-off on 22nd September to earn their place in the final three days later.

The mid-season Women’s Regional T20 competition sees the eight teams split into two groups of four, based on their 2020 finishing positions in the fifty-over format. Each team will play three home and three away matches during the group stage before Finals Day on 5 September. The best group finisher will automatically qualify for a place in the final, with the other group winner and best placed runner up also qualifying for Finals Day, however before the showpiece event, they’ll need to battle it out in a play-off to secure their place in the final.

Sunrisers are now also delighted to announce that The Cloudfm County Ground and Northamptonshire’s County Ground will both host home matches this summer, with two other venues for Sunrisers’ remaining home fixtures to be announced in the near future.

Sunrisers Regional Director of Women’s Cricket, Danni Warren, commented: “Undoubtedly, the best part of any cricketers’, coaches’, or supporters’ year is the day of the first fixture of the summer. The opportunity to pull on the shirt and showcase their skills is a date that everyone works towards, perhaps none more so than this year. Not only will 2021 bring more matches than ever at an elite domestic level, it comes off the back of a winter where cricket quite rightly played second fiddle to wider societal challenges.

“As a team, Sunrisers cannot wait to bring to life elite women’s cricket across the region. By sharing our style, and entertaining new and existing audiences, we aim to inspire people locally to consider cricket as a key component in their lives.”

SUNRISERS 2021 FIXTURES (home fixtures in bold)
Sat 29th May – South East Stars, The Cloudfm County Ground (50-over)
Mon 31st May – Thunder, TBC (50-over)
Sat 5th June – Northern Diamonds, TBC (50-over)
Sat 12th June – Lightning, TBC (50-over)
Sat 26th June – Western Storm, Taunton (20-over)
Fri 2nd July – Northern Diamonds, The Cloudfm County Ground (20-over)
Fri 9th July – Thunder, Old Trafford (20-over)
Wed 25th Aug – Northern Diamonds, TBC (20-over)
Sat 28th Aug – Thunder, Northampton (20-over)
Mon 30th Aug – Western Storm, TBC (20-over)
Fri 10th Sept – Central Sparks, TBC (50-over)
Sun 12th Sept – Southern Vipers, TBC (50-over)
Sat 18th Sept – Western Storm, Bristol (50-over)

Additional Fixtures
Sun 5th Sept – Finals Day (20-over)
Wed 22nd Sept – Play-off (50-over)
Sat 25th Sept – Final (50-over)

The ECB have also published a handy guide to all things Elite Women’s cricket this summer, so check out the information below ahead of the 2021 season kicking off.

Everything you need to know about the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Women’s Regional T20 Fixtures

When will the two tournaments start?
The Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy will begin on 29 May with all eight teams in action on the opening day. The Women’s Regional T20 is set to start on 26 June with three opening-round matches to be played as double headers with Vitality Blast games at Trent Bridge, Edgbaston and Emerald Headingley. Emirates Old Trafford will also stage a double header on 9 July.

How will the Rachel Heyhoe Flint Trophy format work this summer?
Southern Vipers are the defending champions after they won the inaugural Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy final against Northern Diamonds at Edgbaston last September.

The same eight teams will compete this summer with each team to play against each other once during the group stage. The team that tops the table after the group stage will advance to the final, to be staged on 25 September.

The second and third-placed teams at the end of the group stage will meet in a playoff on 22 September. The winner of that match will progress to the final. The venues for the playoff and for the final are to be confirmed.

What is the Women’s Regional T20?
This is the first season of the Women’s Regional T20 and will be played between the same eight teams that will also compete in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.

The teams have been placed into two groups of four based on their final standings in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy last summer:

Group A: Southern Vipers, Central Sparks, South East Stars, Lightning.
Group B: Northern Diamonds, Western Storm, Sunrisers, Thunder.

Each team will play six group-stage matches – three at home and three away. Finals Day will be staged on Sunday 5 September with the best group winner progressing immediately to the final.

The semi-final on Finals Day will be contested by the ‘other’ group winner and the best second-placed team. The winner of that match will progress to the final.

Which players will take part?
This summer an increased number of 41 players have signed professional domestic full-time contracts in addition to 17 centrally contracted England players. Each team therefore has five players on full-time domestic professional contracts with Western Storm offering one additional contract.

The availability of England Women’s Centrally Contracted players will be known once the international schedule has been confirmed. All players who take part in the competition will be paid to play, with the exception of Centrally Contracted players.

How can I follow the matches?

You can sync all of today’s announced fixtures directly to the calendar of your mobile phone or mobile device by clicking on this link:https://sync.ecal.com/button/v1/schedule/

The ECB and regional teams will provide further detail on plans to live stream matches so you can keep updated when the competitions begin.

You can follow each team now, via Twitter:

Sunrisers: @Sunriserscrick
Central Sparks: @CentralSparks
Lightning: @Lightningcric
Northern Diamonds: @North_Diamonds
Thunder: @NW_Thunder
South East Stars: @SEStarsCricket
Southern Vipers: @VipersKSL
Western Storm: @_WesternStorm

Why is the 50 over competition called the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy?
The tournament is named after former England great Rachael Heyhoe Flint, a trailblazer in women’s cricket who passed away in 2017, aged 77. Heyhoe Flint is a titanic figure in the history of the women’s game, challenging convention and fighting for progress as a player, administrator and campaigner throughout her life.

As well as serving as England captain and campaigning for women’s inclusion in the MCC, Heyhoe Flint sat on the ECB Board that gave the green-light for the Kia Super League to start in 2015.

The Kia Super League trophy was last year re2-commissioned to become the Rachel Heyhoe Flint trophy to further illustrate the progression and growth of the women’s domestic game.

What is the background of the eight teams playing in these competitions?
The eight teams are formed of First-Class Counties and National Counties – and Loughborough University – who work together at the elite end of the women’s domestic game to support a squad of professional and semi-professional players, as well as an academy.

The eight regions are:
Sunrisers – formed of Middlesex CCC, Essex CCC, Northamptonshire CCC, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Norfolk, Suffolk.
Central Sparks – formed of Warwickshire CCC & Worcestershire CCC, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire
Lightning – Loughborough University, Derbyshire CCC, Leicestershire CCC, Nottinghamshire CCC, Lincolnshire
Northern Diamonds – Yorkshire CCC, Durham CCC, Northumberland
Thunder – Lancashire CCC, Cheshire, Cumbria
South East Stars – Surrey CCC, Kent CCC
Southern Vipers – Hampshire Cricket Ltd, Sussex CCC, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire
Western Storm – Glamorgan CCC, Gloucestershire CCC, Somerset CCC, Cricket Wales, Cornwall, Devon, Wiltshire