The Yorkshire Women and Girls Cricket League has a key role to play in the progression of the female game within the White Rose county.
That is the view of Saxton’s captain and county batter Charlotte North, who is relishing the return of local league action after a Coronavirus-enforced hiatus in 2020.
North and her Saxton team-mates will take part in a four-team Premier Division competition from July, with their six-game 40-over programme supplemented by a series of friendlies.
North is just one of a host of county stars present, future and even past who feature for Saxton, 2019 champions Sessay, Farsley and Wrenthorpe.
Things are developing quickly across the women’s game.
The new Regional structure was debuted last summer, with the Emerald Headingley based Northern Diamonds reaching the final of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint (one-day) Trophy.
Below that is the Yorkshire women’s senior team and then a number of age-group and development sides.
But helping to lay the foundations for progress is also the W&G’s League, which returns with gusto in early July.
“It should be a really exciting summer for us,” said North. “Everyone is just desperate to get back playing. I saw a list of fixtures recently and straightaway said ‘Yes’ to every one.
“There is a lot of Yorkshire representation, from the senior team to the age-groups.
“Sessay are a good team, and that’s usually the most competitive game we have. They have a lot of Yorkshire age-groups girls. But I’m confident we can give them a good game or two this year and come out on top.
“We have some good youngsters coming through as well, but one of the challenges we have is that I play for the Yorkshire first team, and our club games clash. And we lose four of our senior players to that.
“Sessay, on the other hand, have more of the Under 13s, 15s and 17s. That generally means they’re available more.
“Wrenthorpe have a few county girls across their team.
“I would be pleasantly surprised if Farsley were able to come in straightaway and challenge. But let’s hope they do. That would be good for everyone.”
North was not short on options when asked to pick out some names to keep an eye on.
At Saxton, she highlighted batter Hannah Buck, who captained the Yorkshire women in Sunday’s opening T20 friendlies at Nottinghamshire, and all-rounder Sarah Wood.
Elsewhere, she picked out wicketkeeper-batter Ellie Nightingale from Wrenthorpe and Phoebe Turner, an all-rounder from Sessay.
Given that professional contracts are now available to women at the top of the domestic game, it is interesting to chat to North about her own aspirations.
At 26, you could compare her, in experience, to fast bowler Phoebe Graham, who turned pro ahead of 2021 at the age 29.
“I really value Phoebe’s move,” said North. “It was a very bold decision, and she’s done it because she just loves to play the game. She’s shown everyone that there is still the chance for a career in the game at that kind of age.
“But I’m an accountant now, and I’m not sure I could move away from that purely to play cricket.
“If there had been the pathways there are now when I was younger, it could have completely changed my perspective on things. But the youngsters now have gone to do things like the Yorkshire Cricket College to study there and progress their games. It’s brilliant.”
Still, there is still so much to drive North, someone who has coached in the Pathways system alongside her day job and first wore the White Rose at Under 13s level in 2006.
“It’s really good to see at the minute that some of the girls I played with in the Yorkshire team on Sunday, I coached them in the Yorkshire pathways,” she added.
“Also, you see the likes of Leah Dobson and Rachel Slater going up into the Northern Diamonds, and I’ve coached them.
“It may not be my preference to go and do that, but seeing them do it and playing a part in that is just as satisfying.”
The Yorkshire women face a behind closed doors T20 clash with Cumbria at Arnside CC on Sunday.