ECB funding increase to take number of professional women cricketers to nearly 100

Northern Diamonds, in blue, defeated Souther Vipers in the final of this year’s Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy

The number of professional women cricketers in England and Wales will rise to almost 100 next year after an increase in funding.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have announced a £3.5m boost for each of 2023 and 2024.

Each of the eight regional teams will have 10 players whose contracts are funded by the ECB, making 80 in total.

Those will be joined by around 17 centrally contracted England players, to be announced in the coming weeks.

Some 40 domestic players below the England set-up were first given contracts by the ECB in 2020, a number that rose to 48 in 2021.

The latest increase will take place in two stages – first to 56 on 1 November, then the full 80 on 1 February.

The total number of professionals could exceed 100 depending on contracts given out by the regions themselves, with money not provided by the ECB – 10 such deals currently exist.

The ECB will spend £7m funding the women’s domestic game in 2022, with that figure rising to £10.5m in each of the next two years.

The average yearly salary for a women’s regional cricketer will be £25,000.

ECB interim chief executive Clare Connor said: “Everyone within cricket should be immensely proud of the game-changing progress of professional women’s domestic cricket.”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.”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.”

Meanwhile, England are interviewing head coach candidates following the departure of Lisa Keightley at the end of the summer.

The new coach is set to be in place for the tour of West Indies at the end of the year, the schedule for which is still to be confirmed.

Captain Heather Knight, who missed the Commonwealth Games and series against India with a hip problem, is due to be fit for the trip.

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