The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), with its powerful work to develop women’s cricket in England is leaving no stone unturned. The latest testimony to the Board’s effort is that it is all set to award domestic contracts to a new set of women cricketers.
Last year, 41 domestic players signed deals which was hailed at that time as “the most significant step forward for the women’s game in recent years” by Clare Connor, the ECB’s director of women’s cricket. As per ESPNcricinfo’s understanding, the ECB will fund one further contract at each of the eight regional centers for 2021-22, with confirmation expected later this week.
England women’s cricket has been on a roll in the recent past, thanks to their success against India in the multi-format series and against New Zealand in the ODIs and T20Is. The inaugural Hundred also garnered large crowds to cheer the women cricketers across the world playing the newest format in cricket.
“From November 1 we’ll have nearly half the players involved in those competitions [the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and Charlotte Edwards Cup] on pro contracts. You add in the value of the Hundred contracts as well, and in terms of professional status for female players, we’ve really shifted over the last couple of years. We’ve got to keep building that and investing in it, but the eight regions have done a tremendous job over year one or the first 18 months, and got lots of those players really ready for the Hundred. By it being postponed, lots of the players had already had a year in their regional setups and they were really ready to go,” Connor told Matt Roller for ESPNcricinfo.
Though it has not been a 100% smooth ride for the ECB when it gave away contracts to 41 domestic players, the Board is trying to sort out the teething problems as it is working closely with the Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA).
“There’s certainly been teething problems with the way the new structure has been implemented. Probably the No. 1 priority has actually been getting a bit more structure and consistency around facilities. If we can get to a place where teams have one training base, one playing base, and continuity of training schedules from week to week with plenty of notice, then I think that will alleviate a lot of the problems that we’ve found around things like expenses, not knowing where to live because you’re using three different venues for training – particularly within London – and also having a consistent structure to allow players to do other things outside of cricketing commitments, like coaching or other interests for example, in terms of earning more cash over the winters in particular. The women’s executive team at the ECB and the PCA are very much on the same page on a lot of it, trying to improve that experience for a professional in the women’s game. We’ve had some very positive discussions as to how we can improve things, certainly with regards structure and facilities which are the No. 1 priority,” Daryl Mitchell, the PCA’s director of cricket operations, told ESPNcricinfo last month.
Connor added: “Whenever you do something new, and quite significant, you would be foolish to not expect a few bumps in the road or teething problems, but those have been mostly ironed out, I think, with things like expenses policies and equality principles with men’s contracts, and we’re working really closely with the PCA on all of that. I’m really pleased with how it’s all going, and there’s nothing that can’t be overcome in terms of those little bumps in the road, and the players are thriving so that’s ultimately what we care about.”
This article is the summary of the original article published on ESPN Cricinfo
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