04 Dec

Sixteen female cricketers have been awarded full-time domestic contracts with the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), taking the total to 41. 

Each of the eight teams in the regional set-up now has five full-time players, with Western Storm funding a sixth. 

All-rounder Jenny Gunn, who retired from England international duty in 2019, is among the players to earn one. 

"This is the most significant step forward for the women's game in recent years," said the ECB's Clare Connor. 

The ECB awarded 25 regional retainer contracts in June, with plans to announce 40 domestic deals delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The full-time contracts are in addition to the 17 centrally contracted England players, such as Heather Knight and Natalie Sciver. 

Spinner Alex Hartley, who won the 2017 World Cup alongside Gunn but lost her central contract last year, was already on a regional retainer alongside the likes of Sophia Dunkley, Tash Farrant and Bryony Smith who have played for England. 

Connor, the ECB director of women's cricket, added: "In terms of the health of women's cricket in England and Wales, we cannot overestimate the importance of these 41 players having the opportunity to train and work on their skills full-time, with access to high quality coaching and facilities across the eight regions. Today's news is not only wonderful for the players themselves, it represents a step change for our whole domestic game and for young girls who will now be able to see more opportunity and aspiration in front of them." 

The players will compete in The Women's Hundred competition, which has been postponed until 2021. 

John Stephenson 


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