Ramsbottom Cricket Club are set to become the first club in the history of the Lancashire League to enter an all-women’s team.
Ramsbottom were one of the league’s founding clubs in 1892, and next summer the club will make history when the women’s and girl’s first eleven join the Lancashire League’s third eleven section.
Here, they will take on teams primarily made up of men, playing clubs like Nelson, Colne and Bacup.
Speaking about how the club came to the decision, Director of Cricket, Andy Dalby, said: “The girls’ team, the first eleven, won every league game last year so, from my side of things, it was a natural progression to approach the chairman about what we do for next season.
“After we spoke about potentially entering a women’s side into the Lancashire League, we then consulted with the girls themselves, the parents, and the supporters to hear their views. Once we were certain of their support, we approached the Lancashire League who were hugely supportive of the initiative.”
The women’s and girl’s section at Ramsbottom was set up just after lockdown in 2020. Initially, there was an under 13s team and an under 15s team. The club has also now added an under 19s women’s side and second eleven and first eleven teams.
Ramsbottom decided to approach the Lancashire League with their idea after the women’s and girl’s first team won all their games in the women’s Lancashire Cricket Foundation League last season.
While the club believes the future of women’s cricket is women playing against women regularly in a competitive league, it felt an interim solution was required to help progress the female players Ramsbottom has attracted.
As well as playing in the Lancashire League, the women’s and girl’s first eleven will continue to compete in the women’s Lancashire Cricket Foundation League next season, where they will aim to retain the trophies they won in 2023.
Chairman John Fox expanded on the club’s commitment to the growth of women’s cricket. He said: “We’re really happy to try and be the standard bearer for women’s cricket in the Lancashire League and hopefully, the north west. It’s a big thing from our point of view but we want to stress that it’s the women’s game as much as Ramsbottom Cricket Club. We’re here really to try and help the women’s game progress”.
The first team joining the Lancashire League is yet another step forward for a women’s and girl’s section that is firing on all cylinders under head coach Iain Collier. Along with the success of the first team, the seconds and the U18s side both won their respective leagues last season. The under 13s are the reigning North West of England Champions and Lancashire County Foundation Softball Cup Champions.
Ramsbottom are also proud to have five players on the Thunder Emerging Player Programme – a women’s regional cricket team which represents Lancashire and the North West of England – and 20 county age group players.
Imogen Young, 17, is a wicketkeeper batter for Ramsbottom women’s and girls first eleven and has represented Lancashire in many different age groups.
She said: “I’m looking forward to the challenge of playing against men next season. It will develop us all as players and as a team.
“I’m also hopeful that the move is going to get more girls down to the club. Ultimately though, I hope the move helps to develop women’s cricket in the north west.”
Ramsbottom Cricket club is urging as many supporters as possible to support the girls when they embark on a historic season in April next year. They will begin their campaign away against Bacup on April 20th. Their first home game is against Accrington on April 27th.