Adams Hails Visibility of The Hundred as New Professional Pathway Opens Up Opportunities for Women’s Cricket
PAYNTR Ambassador Georgia Adams has backed The Hundred to be the catalyst for more women to become full-time professional domestic cricketers following the culmination of the tournament which was won by her Oval Invincibles side.
Adams has been living her childhood dream of being a full-time cricketer since last year when she became one of 41 women to earn domestic professional contracts, something she says she could not have foreseen growing up.
‘When it (The Hundred) was postponed in 2020, I think a lot of people were left a bit stranded and that’s why the ECB did so incredibly well in such uncertain and difficult times in the peak of COVID to set up these domestic regional contracts. The phone call came out of the blue; I remember sitting down after and saying to myself “I’m finally a professional cricketer” – I never thought I’d be able to say that’ says the 27-year-old, who wears the PAYNTR Bodyline 124 when training and competing.
As things stand, five domestic contracts are offered per franchise, but with the introduction of the Hundred and the huge visibility of it this summer, Adams is hopeful that this increases quickly and with it the number of sponsors and backers who support female cricketers and the women’s game in general.
‘Hopefully in the next two or three years we’ll see an increase in the number of contracts awarded per domestic squad and ideally this would be across the whole squad. Girls of my generation made our domestic debuts as young as 14 or 15, and the likes of Sarah Taylor was playing for England at 17, so hopefully we will start to see girls sticking around in the sport longer and not being lost to full-time jobs, and there will be real competition for places. It’s great for young players that they have something to strive for even if they don’t play internationally, they can still have a really good domestic career.’
Adams – daughter of former England men’s player Chris – was educated at the independent school Brighton College but it’s her work as the Lead Cricket Coach at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA) that has helped convince her that there are untapped resources in the state sector.
‘I was very lucky growing up, I was in private education with scholarships which definitely helped on my journey as a cricket player and gave me opportunities to play three, four or five times a week and that was fantastic for me as a kid, because that’s all I wanted to do. When I got the role at BACA it was just brilliant to see what Sir Rod Aldridge and (former England player) Alexia Walker have managed to achieve down there because they’ve fundamentally setup an elite cricket academy within a state school to provide those kids who can’t get into or don’t want to go to private schools with opportunities to play cricket. We can give them something even better than what they (the private schools) can, and we are seeing a shift in kids leaving the private schools to come to BACA because what we offer is better. And that’s just a small area in Brighton, so I think now it is about ensuring young people get those opportunities especially with The Hundred which I have no doubt will have grown the visibility (of the game) and grown the amount of people who want to get involved,’ adds Adams.
Her 17-year-old team-mate Alice Capsey has been one of the stars of The Hundred, and Adams has enjoyed watching the young talent come to the fore and has also been loved being involved in a pioneering tournament for women’s sport.
‘It’s been great fun. Everything that’s gone into making the spectacle has helped to create additional energy. We aren’t overly used to playing with such large crowds so that brings the energy and the buzz. It’s been an absolute whirlwind and so brilliant to be a part of the huge rise in visibility of the women’s game. For us, it’s about going out there and showing and proving that women’s cricket is worth watching and we can play exciting cricket. I think the girls are clever too, when you look at some of the skills players are capable of. I think it’s fantastic how well it’s gone down as a tournament.
‘The feedback I’ve been receiving is that people have been enjoying watching the women’s game because they hadn’t realised just how skilled the girls are now with both bat and ball. People who watch men’s cricket regularly will be used to seeing the ball launched into the stands, which is a great sight! But we can’t always rely on swinging the arms and clearing the ropes all of the time, so placing shots well and quick running between the wickets is a big part of the strategy. It’s just been phenomenal. I know Beth Barrett-Wild pretty well and she’s been at the forefront of running the competition and I think what’s she’s done and how she’s pioneered it has been top drawer for women’s cricket. I do think the objectives that they wanted to achieve with The Hundred – a form of cricket that was easy to follow, fast-paced, fun, exciting and something that would attract families to the game have been achieved, as well as providing a huge increase in visibility especially for the women’s game,’ she adds.
Adams is one of a number of female cricketers who PAYNTR supplies products to, including Tammy Beaumont and Katie Levick, as well as the entire Southern Vipers franchise, and Adams believes that The Hundred has shown that playing in front of packed houses, live on Sky Sports and BBC, make the dream seem a viable reality for lots of young girls.
‘You look at girls like Alice (Capsey), only 17, and Shafali Verma, only 17, going out there and playing such skilful cricket – they’re young players who have been given opportunities and are playing fearlessly. It’s really not too far away for people to aim for (when they see examples like these).
‘ We’ve never been able to rely on money, or sponsorships because it’s just not been a part of the game for us yet, so the girls show just huge passion and love for the game, and I think that’s why we enjoy playing just so much and we just want to play as much cricket as possible. It’s tough in the women’s game (with regards to sponsorship) because before The Hundred it just didn’t have visibility, and I know some of the girls have struggled to get kit, or they’ve had to pay for it, and you just don’t see that in the men’s game at a professional level. It’s another huge bonus of The Hundred that hopefully sponsors will take more interest in the women’s game,’ concludes Adams.