Western Storm get home start to 2021 season

Western Storm's Sophie Luff hits out during the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy - Beckenham Cricket Club

Western Storm's Sophie Luff hits out against South East Stars during the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy at Beckenham Cricket Club during the 2020 season - Credit: PA

Western Storm will begin their 2021 season with a home match against Thunder at Bristol in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy on May 25.

The competition returns alongside a new Women's Regional T20 as a new era begins for women's domestic cricket this summer.

A total of 56 matches will be played across both competitions, with the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy starting on May 29 with the eight teams to play each other once in the group stage before the September 25 final.

The T20 is set to begin on June 26 with the eight teams split into two groups of four to play home and away fixtures, before Finals Day on September 5.

Western Storm are in group B with Northern Diamonds, Sunrisers and Thunder and the best group winner progresses straight to the final, while the other group winner meets the best second-place team in a semi-final.

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England Women are set to host two international series across the summer of 2021, with fixtures to be announced shortly. England player availability throughout the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Women’s Regional T20 competition will be determined by international selection.

Southern Vipers won the inaugural Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy last September and, following the popularity of the decision to name last summer’s competition after one of English cricket’s most revered names, it was decided that the tournament should continue to honour the former England captain and pioneer.

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Baroness Rachael Heyhoe Flint OBE led England at the first-ever World Cup in 1973 while off the field her determination for equality laid the foundations for the opportunities presented to modern-day players.

This summer 41 female players have signed full-time professional domestic contracts – in addition to 17 centrally contracted England players – while the launch of The Hundred will establish further opportunity for female cricketers.

ECB Managing Director of Women’s Cricket, Clare Connor, said: “This promises to be a truly memorable summer of cricket for the women’s game.

“We are not only set to further professionalise the game with more players on full-time contracts than ever before but, crucially, we will showcase our game to more young girls across England and Wales so that they can say cricket is a game for them.

“I am particularly proud that we will continue to move forward with Rachael Heyhoe Flint’s name, with everything she represented for women’s cricket, firmly entrenched in our journey.

“The launch of women’s regional cricket last summer, despite the challenges caused by the pandemic, was another significant step forward for our domestic game. We are now looking forward to seeing those regional teams play twice as much cricket this summer with the addition of the T20 competition.”

Western Storm fixtures (home in CAPITALS)

Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy: THUNDER (May 25, Bristol); Central Sparks (May 31, Edgbaston); South East Stars (June 5, Oval); SOUTHERN VIPERS (June 12, tbc); Northern Diamonds (Sept 10, Riverside); LIGHTNING (Sept 12, Bristol); SUNRISERS (Sept 18, Bristol).

T20: SUNRISERS (June 26, Taunton); Thunder (July 3, tbc); NORTHERN DIAMONDS (July 10, Taunton); THUNDER (August 25, Sophia Gardens); Northern Diamonds (August 28, Riverside); Sunrisers (August 30, tbc).

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