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Today, the England and Wales Cricket Board centrally announced that the eight regional teams within the new Women’s Elite domestic structure have confirmed their allocation of professional players for the 2021 season, with 41 female cricketers signing full-time contracts.

Sunrisers, the regional side comprising Middlesex, Essex, Northamptonshire, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), and the five national counties of Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, have awarded contracts to Amara Carr, Kelly Castle, Naomi Dattani, Jo Gardner and Cordelia Griffith.

Earlier this year in June, Sunrisers initially awarded regional retainers to each of Carr, Dattani and Griffith for the 2020 season, however they, along with Castle and Gardner have now all progressed on to full-time terms.

Each of Carr, Dattani and Griffith play with Middlesex Cricket, whilst Castle and Gardner become the first female players to come through Essex’s and Northamptonshire’s respective ranks to earn professional contracts. Castle is the current Essex Women’s Captain, whilst Gardner moved from Northamptonshire to play with Warwickshire Women ahead of the 2017 season.

Speaking of the awarding of these five professional full-time domestic contracts, Danni Warren, Regional Head of Women’s Cricket for the London and East region, commented:

Despite the challenges that 2020 has presented as a year, today’s announcement is yet another memorable moment, for the players themselves, Sunrisers as a region and for the women’s game.

“All five of these players personify the values that Sunrisers are working to develop across our region and throughout the time we have worked with them they leave nothing behind in pursuit of improvement as players and individuals.

“We could not ask for more fantastic people or role models, they all care deeply about the impact they can have on the game itself and all the staff and I here at Sunrisers cannot wait to see them flourish over the coming months and years.“

The ECB’s Managing Director of Women’s Cricket, Clare Connor, added:

“We’re delighted that these 41 young women are able to call themselves full-time professional cricketers and we wish them every success.

“The introduction of these 41 professional players, in addition to our 17 Centrally Contracted England Women’s players is the most significant step forward for the women’s game in recent years.

“In terms of the health of women’s cricket in England and Wales, we cannot overestimate the importance of these 41 players having the opportunity to train and work on their skills full-time, with access to high quality coaching and facilities across the eight regions.

“Today’s news is not only wonderful for the players themselves, it represents a step change for our whole domestic game and for young girls who will now be able to see more opportunity and aspiration in front of them.

“When you add in the profile opportunity of The Hundred next year, the landscape looks even more exciting. After a challenging year in the wake of the pandemic, I’m really pleased with the progress we’ve made in 2020, just one year after launching our action plan to transform women’s and girls’ cricket.”

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