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ECB announces funding for sixth professional contract at each women’s regional team

Diamonds receive additional funding from Yorkshire CCC to raise number of players on full-time deals from six to eight, while Lancashire are paying for an extra contract at Thunder; total number of professional women's cricketers in England rises to 67

Hollie Armitage, Northern Diamonds (PA)
Image: Hollie Armitage is one of four professional players retained by Northern Diamonds

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

The increase takes the number of professional players in the women's regional structure from 41 to 51, with a further 16 England Women Centrally Contracted players taking the number of professional women's cricketers in England and Wales to 67.

Clare Connor, ECB managing director of Women's Cricket, said: "It's absolutely fundamental to the future of women's and girls' cricket in England and Wales that we're able to continue increasing the depth of our regional game by offering more professional contracts to our players.

"We cannot overstate the impact that a new professional structure is having on our game. We've already seen the positive impact it has had on players' performances in a relatively short space of time. The players are thriving, raising standards across the game and deepening the potential talent pool for England Women.

Clare Connor, ECB Director of Women's Cricket (PA)
Image: Clare Connor, ECB Director of Women's Cricket, says the rise will help more girls and women see cricket as a viable career

"Just as important is the visibility of these players, showing young girls that cricket is a game that can offer them a professional future.

"Professionalising the women's game is a significant chapter for our sport and I'm thrilled that we're able to continue that momentum by increasing the number of professional contracts on offer."

Northern Diamonds have received funds for two additional contracts from Yorkshire County Cricket Club, taking their number of professionals to eight, while Thunder have seven courtesy of money from Lancashire CCC.

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Diamonds have finished as runners-up to Southern Vipers in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy in the last two summers, and also lost out to South East Stars in this year's final of the Charlotte Edwards Cup.

Four members of that squad have been retained on full-time terms - Hollie Armitage, Jenny Gunn, Beth Langston and Linsey Smith - while Bess Heath, Sterre Kalis, Katie Levick and Rachel Slater win their first full-time deals.

Bowler Phoebe Graham and batter Ami Campbell have opted to sign for Thunder and Central Sparks respectively.

Picture by
Image: Seamer Phoebe Graham has left Diamonds to join Thunder (Picture by

Northern Diamonds director of cricket, James Carr, said: "It's really good of the ECB to continue to support us and gradually uplift the contracts year on year. The additional support from Yorkshire County Cricket Club as the regional host has taken us from six to eight full-time contracts, which will allow us to continue to have that competitive edge and show that professional cricket for women is a viable career.

"We've had two hugely successful years but have fallen slightly short at the final hurdle, and I think the additional contracts will allow us to put a bit more attention to detail that can take us one step further.

"The whole squad have almost been full-time because of Covid, so even the pay-as-you-play players have been able to access more training. I think the upward trajectory of the women's game has maybe been steeper than anticipated because of this. Being able to offer a lady a salary so that they can commit their working week to the game pays massive dividends alongside the holistic support."

This year Diamonds have played at some of the finest venues in the country in both the regional competitions and for many of the players during The Hundred, as well as entertaining increasing volumes of supporters.

"It's really special for them," commented Carr. "All we've seen for the last 18 months is huge growth in these players, both as cricketers and people. The opportunity for them to play at Emerald Headingley, Lord's and all the other First-Class ground is really special.

"I think it gives a statement to the players that they are valued and shows them their worth as cricketers. Ultimately whatever level of sport you play, if it's not a memorable experience, people will stop playing. I think that is just as important at the top level as it is at grassroots."

Central Sparks

Emily Arlott, Ami Campbell, Gwenan Davies, Abbey Freeborn, Eve Jones, Issy Wong


Kathryn Bryce, Sarah Bryce, Bethan Ellis, Kirstie Gordon, Lucy Higham, Marie Kelly

Northern Diamonds

Hollie Armitage, Jenny Gunn, Bess Heath, Beth Langston, Katie Levick, Linsey Smith, *Sterre Kalis, *Rachel Slater

Southern Vipers

Georgia Adams, Lauren Bell, Maia Bouchier, Charlie Dean, Tara Norris, Paige Scholfield,

South East Stars

Alice Capsey, Aylish Cranstone, Alice Davidson-Richards, Danielle Gregory, Tash Farrant, Bryony Smith


Amara Carr, Kelly Castle, Naomi Dattani, Jo Gardner, Cordelia Griffith, Grace Scrivens


Georgie Boyce, Alex Hartley, Laura Jackson, Hannah Jones, Emma Lamb, Ellie Threlkeld, ** Phoebe Graham

Western Storm

Dani Gibson, Alex Griffiths, Georgia Hennessey, Sophie Luff, Fi Morris, Nat Wraith

* Sterre Kalis and Rachel Slater funded by Yorkshire CCC

** Phoebe Graham funded by Lancashire CCC

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