Essex Cricket has announced a successful bid to form a Tier One professional women’s team from the 2025 season.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) ratified the decision on Wednesday and Essex join Durham, Hampshire, Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Somerset, Surrey, and Warwickshire in being granted a professional women’s team.

The bid centred on community engagement and empowering women and girls to become the future of the game.

At the core of the professional women’s team lies a partnership with the University of Essex and neighbouring professional sports club, Essex Rebels, renowned for their excellence in basketball and volleyball at the national level.

The collaborative effort underscores the shared aspirations of all parties to celebrate the region and contribute to the transformation of women’s sports.

Essex Cricket is aiming to revolutionise the landscape of women’s cricket under the unifying mantra of ‘We Are Essex’.

With a rich history of cultivating inspiring role models, cricket in Essex has consistently served as a powerful force for good within the region.

Now, with the awarding of a Tier One professional women’s team, the county are poised to deepen these connections, serving as a catalyst for change, breaking down barriers, and empowering the next generation of female cricketers.

The bid advances with a vision to establish The Cloud County Ground and wider region as the premier destination in England for women and girls’ sports, with cricket serving as its cornerstone.

John Stephenson, chief executive officer at Essex Cricket, said: “We are thrilled by the opportunity to host a Tier One side, and we thank the ECB for embracing our submission.

“We are a club that has always aimed to empower and promote women and girls, and we now have a once in a generation opportunity to transform female sport in the region.

“The bid encompassed the support of many key organisations and partnerships, including the University of Essex and the cricket boards of Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Suffolk, and Norfolk. Their support was instrumental in bringing our submission to life and it’s an exciting time for us all.

“Now, with the awarding of Tier One status, we are focused on making a big impact on the growth of women’s cricket in the UK and look forward to working together with all of our stakeholders to achieve the aims we set out.”

Prisha Bedi, Essex Women’s 2023 Young Player of the Year, added: “This is a watershed moment for sport in our region, and Essex being awarded this status will hugely benefit my generation of players.

“The commitment by the ECB to women and girls’ sport is special, but for Essex to now be a Tier One county makes me so excited for what comes next.”

Dr Dave Parry, Director of Sport at the University of Essex, said: “The award of a Tier One professional women’s cricket team to Essex is a hugely exciting and significant moment.  

“The University of Essex is a leading academic institution for sports science research and has an established reputation for promoting women’s sport. We are determined through our expertise in sports science and athletic training, as well as the collaboration with our elite-level Essex Rebels basketball and volleyball teams, we will enhance women’s cricket both on and off the pitch, bringing a new audience of fans to the women’s game.

“Our aim is to establish the leading region in the country for women’s sport, and we can’t wait to get started on that mission.”