|How the WCSL Map might look?|
Hampshire CCC are fronting a bid for a south coast franchise, based at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, with the "support" of Sussex, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight. Quite what "support" means is not made clear.
Somerset CCC, Gloucestershire CCC and Exeter University have combined for a possible south west franchise, based around the university's training facilities and the county grounds at Taunton and Bristol.
In the north west Lancashire have confirmed their interest in being a WCSL franchisee, with the support of the Cheshire CB. Lancashire can of course boast the excellent training and playing facilities they have at their disposal at Old Trafford in Manchester.
It also looks like London could have two rival franchises based at Lords and the Oval. The MCC and Middlesex are believed to be getting together to try and get a franchise based at the Home of Cricket, and Surrey CCC stated back in July that they would be submitting a bid, with, you would guess, the Oval as hub of their franchise.
So what of the Midlands? All quiet so far, but there has been a great deal of interest from Loughborough University, where of course the National Cricket Performance Centre has been established. The problem Loughborough has is that they do not have a ground that could host televised matches with crowds. The nearest first-class men's and women's county is Nottinghamshire, so it would be no surprise if they submitted some kind of joint bid, perhaps with the support of one or more of Warwickshire, Staffordshire and even Worcestershire.
As for the north east Yorkshire, last year's Division One county champions, are the closest and biggest women's county, but have yet to commit to any bid. And in the south east it does not look as though any bid will be forthcoming from Kent or Essex, perhaps on the basis that they know they could not compete with the resources available to the London-based franchises.
For now it is all speculation, but once the bid winners are announced the next headache will be how the England and England Academy players are allocated to the various franchises. No-one has quite explained how this will be done, only that the hope is that the teams will all share the England resources equally to ensure a tight and entertaining competition.
No wonder Clare Connor is having sleepless nights.