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Photo © CricInfo Women's cricket is run by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), which merged with the Women's Cricket Association (WCA) in April 1998.

This has strengthened the ECB's ability to encourage the provision of more facilities, and more playing opportunities, for women and girls with a strategic, co-ordinated approach.

County Boards and County Development Officers are taking the lead in encouraging and promoting women's and girls' cricket. Some Counties are taking on additional County Development Officers with special responsibility for women's cricket.

And Women's Club Cricket Development Officers have been appointed for the first time. The four new jobs cover South West (Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset), East Midlands (Leics, Derbyshire, Notts and Northants), the North (Durham, Cumbria and Northumberland) and the Home Counties (Bucks, Berks and Oxon).

The appointments come as the numbers involved in the women's game increases. There has been an eight per cent rise in the number of clubs, resulting in a 19 per cent rise in the number of women playing cricket since 1998.

The number of primary school girls involved has increased from 354,000 to 433,000 and secondary school figures have increased from 139,000 to 174,400. The latest opportunity to combine improving cricket while studying for a degree at the six University Centres of Excellence is attracting women as well as men.

This section of the ECB's website is intended to provide women cricketers and those interested in the women's game with some background information on the game - and a greater understanding of it's development role in English cricket.

The domestic game:

Many women's sides are part of men's clubs, many more are independent although a growing number of men's clubs are setting up women's teams.

There is a strong league structure from county, through regional to the National Premier League with an annual system of promotion and relegation. Some clubs play evening league cricket, others concentrate on weekend fixtures, some play both.

Girls also play Kwik Cricket, a shortened form of the game, which introduces youngsters to cricket and promotes their interest in taking up the sport.

The women's game at junior level now runs on the same age groups as the men's. The County League competitions are now for teams at U15, U17 and U19.

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