Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy a chance to impress, say South East Stars pair Tash Farrant and Sophia Dunkley

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 (Getty Images for South East Star)
(Getty Images for South East Star)

The second edition of the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy begins this weekend, and South East Stars captain Tash Farrant believes the expanded professional structure in women’s cricket is proving “absolutely brilliant”.

Farrant made her England debut as a 16-year-old in 2013 but, after a handful of appearances over the years, lost her central contract – and with it her professional status – in 2019.

But she was one of five Stars’ players among the 41 cricketers, across eight regional teams, to receive full-time domestic contracts this year, taking the number of professionals to 41.

After an impressive showing in the inaugural Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy last summer, Farrant found herself back in England colours on the tour of New Zealand this year.

“It’s hard to put into words, but it makes everything [easier],” she said. “When you get called into England you know you have that structure underneath to support you. I had been training with the Stars throughout the winter. I had not been expecting to go to New Zealand so when I did it was brilliant, I was so excited. It was kind of a bonus.

“It creates the security of your job, but with the structure underneath, from a cricketing perspective, I was ready to get on the plane to New Zealand because I had all the training throughout the winter with the Stars. It’s absolutely brilliant to be honest, I can’t explain how much it’s going to do for the women’s game.”

Farrant’s Stars and England colleague Sophia Dunkley agrees.

“I was able to enjoy playing in New Zealand and not have too much on my mind about the future,” she said. "There’s going to be good cricket and training wherever you go. Looking forward to the summer, there’s a lot of international cricket, but if you don’t make those squads, there’s Heyhoe Flint, the Regional T20 competition to come back to.”

The Stars begin their campaign tomorrow, against Sunrisers at Chelmsford, before welcoming Southern Vipers to Beckenham on Monday. They are playing games all across the region, including at Canterbury, Guildford and the Kia Oval.

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