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ICC COO Iain Higgins speaks at the ICC Women’s Cricket Forum.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) held its first ever Women’s Cricket Forum in Dubai this week with the focus on bringing together the sport to develop a long term strategy to accelerate the growth of the game.

With senior representatives from all 10 full members plus PNG, Ireland and the Netherlands, the workshop, which ran over two days, considered a vision for the women’s game as well as the opportunities for the sport and the challenges faced by all members.

The outputs from the day, along with further stakeholder consultations will then form the basis of the global women’s strategy for growth over the next five years.

Clare Connor, Chair of the ICC Women’s Committee said: “This is the first time we have held a Women’s Cricket Forum and I am delighted with the commitment shown by all members to growing the women’s game. Women in cricket is an integral part of the wider ICC strategy, but to drive true growth and transformation and realise the opportunity for the sport we need a specific plan.

“The need to innovate was a recurring theme throughout the day whether that was through formats, schools programme or the way we grow the appeal of the game to new and existing audiences. There is a genuine sense of excitement within the sport about the potential of women’s cricket both in a commercial and societal context.”

David Richardson, Chief Executive of the ICC said: “For cricket to be strong in the future we need a strong women’s game and developing a strategic plan to drive growth in this area is our first step towards making that happen.

“There is a clear opportunity to grow the game and a firm commitment from our members to work in partnership to make that happen. The strategic plan will address the challenges and opportunities women and girls face and ensure that we do not take decisions about the growth of the women’s game through a male lens.

Gayatri Yadav, President – Consumer Strategy and Innovation at Star Network was the guest speaker at the Forum where she shared Star’s inspirational ‘Nayi Soch’ (New Thinking) campaign. She spoke of the need to change perceptions with ground-breaking campaigns and ensure female players were painted as heroes.

Clare Connor added: “Gayatri’s involvement in the forum added another dimension and brought home how to make changing the game a reality. It was encouraging to see how Star are using the platform of cricket to break-down wider cultural stereotypes and drive social change. It reminded us of the possibilities of sport and the impact the growth of the women’s game could have around the world.”