ECB announce 80 full-time domestic contracts as part of £3.5m boost to women’s game

Northern Diamonds celebrate their victory in the 2022 Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy (Getty Images)
Northern Diamonds celebrate their victory in the 2022 Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy (Getty Images)

The ECB has announced it will fund 80 professional contracts for female domestic cricketers by early 2023 as part of a £3.5million boost for the women’s regional game.

Full-time domestic contracts were launched by the body as part of a new regional structure in 2020 and are separate to the central contracts offered to England internationals.

In the first year, 40 such contracts were made available, split evenly across the eight regions, with the number increasing to 48 last year and again to 56 from next Tuesday.

By February next year, in time for the new season, the initial figure will have doubled, meaning each region will have at least ten full-time professional players, though they are able to award additional contracts funded by other sources, such as affiliated county cricket clubs.

The value of the ECB-backed contracts is also set to increase, with each region awarded a quarter-of-a-million-pound salary pot, meaning the average wage of a female professional domestic cricketer will be £25,000-a-year.

The £3.5million injection also includes provision for an “increase in staffing salaries and capacity, with a focus on the science and medicine provision at each region”.

“The significant increase in funding we are announcing today will not only continue to drive the performance standards of our domestic players across England and Wales, giving the women’s game more strength in depth, but critically we are creating a more equitable future for women and girls in our sport,” said Clare Connor, the ECB’s interim CEO.

“Young girls have a clearer pathway in cricket than ever before, and the belief that they too can aspire to be professional cricketers. “As of February there will be nearly 100 professional female cricketers in England and Wales. There were fewer than 20 before we launched the new regional structure in 2020.

“We’re indebted to the hard work of everyone: players, support staff and the administrators who have backed the vision and driven this change - and to the PCA, for the important role they’ve played in supporting this progression with their continued collaboration.

“Combined with the dramatic impact of The Hundred, we are seeing the benefits of professionalisation and collaborative ways of working and cricket is thriving as a result.”