After a lengthy contribution to Women and Girls' Cricket in Devon spanning the past two decades, both Warren Carr and Gavin Lane are stepping down from their roles with Devon Women County Cricket Club.

Warren Carr is stepping down from the role of Women's Team manager, having been involved with the side for around 15 years.

Like many people in grassroots cricket, Warren first got involved in girls' cricket when his daughter, Amara, began playing: "They were looking for people to help with coaching the girls and, because my daughter Amara was involved, I said yes and that's how it started, which I think is quite normal for any parent really. You get involved because of your kids. She was twelve and made her debut for Devon Women at around that age as well."

Warren's involvement with the setup quickly grew from helping out with coaching to taking on the management role: "Gavin was the Women's manager and I started to help coach it. I eventually moved into the management role and it sort of went from there."

At first, the women's team were playing regional cricket and there was only an Under 15s side at youth level, but this quickly changed, with the women's team being promoted to the national Division Three and an Under 13s side being set up.

"Fortunately," Warren says "we built a decent side and we were lucky to have some really good players around. We played in Division Three for a year and the Women's team got promoted to Division Two and the Under 13s and Under 15s won the national title. It was really quite a special year for the women and girls."

Warren Carr (bottom right) with the Devon Women's team in 2019. Credit: Chris Cottrell.

This success did not go unnoticed, with a number of players being called up to the England Development 15s and 19s. "'I'm thinking my daughter, Amara, but there was also Jodie Dibble who went on to play for England, Rebecca Bertrand, Ali Kelly, Cait O'Keefe and Jessie Jones. We had become a bit of a conveyor belt for girls going through the pathway, which was really quite pleasing."

It was around this time that the move to regional cricket was first mooted, and the decision was made to develop women's club and league cricket in Devon. "My son Alex came on board as my coach and I went into the management side of it. When the girls came to our trials we asked them what club they played for, basically trying to encourage them to stay at their clubs and help them grow."

Reflecting on the results of this approach, Warren believes "we've now got a good club system, we are well regarded as a county side, we produce players moving onto the next level on a regular basis and the opportunities mirror what the boys do. As a county, I don't think you can ask for much more."

Looking back on his time with the County Women's side, Warren says his proudest achievement is winning the U15s national title: "I vividly remember getting a dustbin full of water poured over me! That day was a big highlight because winning a national title, that's a big thing.

"The pleasing thing for me is the fact that regional cricket has brought along professional opportunities for women and girls, and girls in Devon can now really aspire to that. Seeing players like Emma [Corney], who I have known for a long time, potentially going on to be professional cricket players is really quite exciting."

Gavin Lane is stepping down as Women's Team Treasurer, having taken on a number of roles during his involvement with the team which spans over two decades.

Gavin Lane is stepping down from the role of Treasurer.It was initially Warren who asked Gavin to get involved in women's cricket, who knew each other from their club connection: "Warren told me he had set up these teams and asked me whether I could help out. Unfortunately, the two people who had trained to coach them were now off to sea and it was: 'over to you'. I was still in the process of getting my coaching qualifications and it was really interesting."

Despite still being in the process of obtaining his coaching qualifications, Gavin ended up taking on a managerial and coaching role with the team, and was tasked with building a squad of players.

"I worked with Jackie Summers to try and help the Devon Women progress. On the one hand, I was their manager because I arranged the pitches and where we played. On the other hand, on the coaching side, I had to find a gang of people who could actually play cricket.

"The players we had were all to do with Jackie, people she knew who could play for the county and could get from game to game. We found a few more hockey players who had time to play cricket in the summer and I quickly appreciated there was no big pool of players looking to become county women cricketers."

Reflecting on the growth of the women's game since he first got involved, Gavin says "it's totally different now. There's no comparison, actually. It's lovely to see more women involved at all levels, I think that's really good. Now that we've got female County Age Groups, there's a clear progression route for the women."

The Devon Cricket Board would like to put on record its huge gratitude for the outstanding contribution both Warren and Gavin have made to women's cricket in the county over the years.

Devon Cricket will always be indebted to the hard work Warren and Gavin have put in to grow the women's game to where it is today.

Further Women's Pathway news to follow this week.