Published: 08:00, 26 June 2020
| Updated: 09:37, 26 June 2020
Kent Cricket players Alice Davidson-Richards and Tash Farrant have agreed to sign for the newly formed South East Stars.
In addition, Kent and Scotland international wicketkeeper Sarah Bryce has signed for the East Midlands Regional Hub.
Eight regional centres of excellence, part of the ECB’s new women’s elite domestic structure, will provide year-round training programmes and eventually contest matches, once allowed.
The new structure has been introduced by the ECB as part of their plans to transform women’s and girls’ cricket.
Up to 40 players in the country - outside of those with an ECB central contract - will be awarded full-time deals in what’s seen as the start of professional cricket outside of the international set-up.
Davidson-Richards is currently on an England rookie contract and has singed up to the Stars until October 2021. She is currently involved un the England women’s return to training programme.
England and Kent seamer Farrant will be on a retainer contract which will switch to a full-time deal come the end of the 2020 season.
Regional teams are supported by traditional counties, who will continue to operate separate sides at county level and age-group pathway programmes.
South East Stars is to be the official name of the 1st XI and academy teams at the centre of excellence that covers both Kent and Surrey.
Surrey are acting as the regional host and Beckenham as the regional performance centre. The South East Stars’ home matches are likely to be staged at numerous grounds in both counties but details have yet to be finalised.
Regional director of women’s cricket, Richard Bedbrook said: “It’s such an exciting initiative to start building the first professional women’s cricket teams outside of the International area in England and to have four players at this stage (including Surrey pair Sophia Dunkley and Bryony Smith), all of whom have the ability to knock on the international door, is really pleasing and provides some real drive for this region to help these players develop to realise their ambitions.
“It’s important that everyone can be prepared for cricket this summer and the retainer contract for Tash in particular provides her with some peace of mind to be able to focus on keeping fit and ensuring she’s ready to go when we get the call.
“As well as playing for the South East Stars, the professional players in the set-up will have some responsibility towards helping to grow the game and inspire girls in the region to pick up a bat and ball.
“These four have all demonstrated a positive attitude in terms of growing women’s cricket in London and the south east and I can’t wait to start working with them, whenever that may be possible.”
Bryce will be joined by sister Kathryn at the East Midlands Hub and Scotland women’s head coach Steven Knox said: “Both of them thoroughly deserve these contracts and they’re reward for all the hard work that they’ve put in both on and off the field over the past 12 months.
“They’re both ranked in the top 20 in the world in T20 internationals for a reason so it comes as no real surprise to me.”
Right-arm seamer and top-order batter Davidson-Richards has won five women’s county championships and three national T20 titles to date with Kent.
Left arm seamer Farrant, part of the England squad during the 2018 ICC Women’s World T20, made her Kent debut in 2012, taking figures of 5 for 9 in her first appearance. She has won five major trophies in her Kent Women career to date, and was one of the first women players to receive an ECB central contract in April 2014.
More by this authorLuke Cawdell
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