Diamonds receive additional funding from Yorkshire CCC to increase the number of players in full-time deals from six to eight, while Lancashire is paying for an additional contract in Thunder; The total number of female professional cricketers in England has risen to 67

Last update: 10/29/21 11:47 AM

Holly Armitage is one of four professional players kept by Northern Diamonds

Holly Armitage is one of four professional players kept by Northern Diamonds

The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced that it will provide funding for a sixth professional contract on each women’s regional team.

The increase brings the number of female professional cricketers in the women’s regional structure from 41 to 51, with another 16 centrally contracted players in England bringing the number of female professional cricketers in England and Wales to 67.

Claire Connor, ECB Director General of Women’s Cricket said: “It is absolutely fundamental to the future of women’s and girls’ cricket in England and Wales that we can continue to increase the depth of our regional game by offering more professional contracts to our players.

“We cannot overstate the impact that the new professional structure is having on our game. We have already seen the positive impact it has had on players’ performance in a relatively short period of time. Players are thriving, raising standards across the game and deepening the potential talent pool of England women.

Claire Connor, director of women's cricket at the European Central Bank, says the rise will help more girls and women see cricket as a viable career.

Claire Connor, director of women’s cricket at the European Central Bank, says the rise will help more girls and women see cricket as a viable career.

“Equally important is the appearance of these players, showing the young girls that cricket can offer them a professional future.

“The women’s professional game is an important chapter for our sport and I am delighted that we are able to continue this momentum by increasing the number of professional contracts on offer.”

Northern Diamonds received money for two additional contracts from Yorkshire County Cricket Club, bringing the number of pros to eight, while Thunder received seven money from Lancashire CCC.

Diamonds finished second in the Southern Snakes’ Rachel Heyhoe Flint tournament the past two summers, and also lost to the South East Stars in this year’s Charlotte Edwards Cup Final.

Four members of this team were kept full-time — Holly Armitage, Jenny Gunn, Beth Langston and Lincy Smith — while Bess Heath, Steer Callis, Katie LeVeque and Rachel Slater won their first full-time deals.

Bowler Phoebe Graham and Batter Ami Campbell chose to sign for Thunder and Central Sparks, respectively.

Seamer Phoebe left Graham Diamonds to join Thunder (Photo by SWpix.com)

Seamer Phoebe left Graham Diamonds to join Thunder (Photo by SWpix.com)

Northern Diamonds director of cricket James Carr said: “It is really good that the ECB continues to support us and is gradually raising contracts year after year. We have taken the additional support from Yorkshire County Cricket Club as the regional host from six to eight full-time contracts, which It will allow us to continue to have this competitive advantage and show that women’s professional cricket is a viable career.

“We’ve had two very successful years but a bit of a failure to reach the last hurdle, and I think the additional contracts will allow us to pay more attention to the details that can take us a step further.

“Almost the entire team was full time because of Covid, so even the pay-as-you-go players had access to more training. I think the upward trajectory of the women’s game has probably been more steep than anticipated because of this. Committing to their work week in the game, it leads to huge profits along with comprehensive support.”

This year the Diamonds played on some of the best stadiums in the country in both regional competitions and for many players during The Hundred, as well as entertaining growing numbers of fans.

“It’s really special for them,” Carr commented. “All we have seen in the last 18 months is the explosive growth of these players, as cricketers and as people. The opportunity to play at Emerald Headingley, Lords and all the other first-class stadiums is really special.

“I think it gives a statement to the players that they are valued and shows them their value as a cricketer. Ultimately, no matter what level of sport you play, if it is not a memorable experience, people will stop playing. I think that is just as important at the top level as It is at the grassroots level.”

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