Cricket Ireland has announced the six players that are to become the country’s first part-time professional players.
Captain Laura Delany, Kim Garth, Mary Waldron, Shauna Kavanagh, Gaby Lewis and Celeste Raak will all benefit from the scheme announced at the end of 2018 and a major step forward for Women in Sport in general and for Women’s cricket in particular.
They will all hope to play in the Six T20 One Day Internationals scheduled for May and July and all of which will be live streamed by Cricket Ireland.
“Today marks a significant landmark in our women’s game – we’re not just here to launch the new international season, but to announce six part-time player contracts – the first-ever in cricket in this country, and making cricket one of very few team sports in Ireland to have professionally-contracted women players,” said Cricket Ireland Performance Director Richard Holdsworth.
“Our women’s programme medium-term objective is to qualify for the ICC Women’s Championship in 2021 – a guaranteed 3-year programme of international fixtures just like our men have now, through the Future Tours Programme.”
“These contracts put in place the foundation blocks that will help us as a cricket nation to achieve our goal.”
“We have an exciting summer of cricket – nine international matches at home, followed by an as yet unannounced quadrangular tournament in August, then the squad heads to Scotland for the T20 World Cup Qualifier.”
“With increased fixtures, training and coaching programmes, we need more availability and contact time with the players. Through a great partnership with and support from Sport Ireland, we are today announcing that six players will benefit from new part-time player contracts.”
“To have these players more available to practice, train and access the world-class support we have both from Cricket Ireland and the Sport Ireland Institute will give them all a great opportunity to improve and give ourselves the best chance of T20 World Cup Qualification, and further down the line an opportunity to be promoted to the ICC Women’s Championship. We hope the contracts will improve and expand year-on-year with Sport Ireland’s support.”
“We are also indebted to the sponsorship support of main sponsors Hanley Energy, and our overseas player development sponsor Devenish Nutrition both of whom play a huge part in promoting the women’s game and our pathway and performance players.”
“I’m very excited and delighted to have been included in the small pool of players selected for a contract as Cricket Ireland take a big step forward in the women’s game,” added Ireland team captain Laura Delany.
“Personally, there are certain aspects of my game that I’ve have been trying to develop further. Hopefully, this will allow me to spend more time working and focusing on my game whilst not having to commit to a full-time job.”
“From a captaincy point of view, this means I will have more contact time with players which should have a positive impact on our development as a group.”
“It’s great to see Cricket Ireland one of the sports bodies leading the way for other female sports in Ireland. Whilst the contracts are part-time it does allow female cricketers to concentrate a bit more on their game but we still have a way to go in order to catch up with our male counterparts.”
The Governing Body also announced the appointment of Beth Healy as part-time Team Operations Manager. Healy works as an event manager with Pioneer Group in Northern Ireland where she also plays cricket for the Civil Service North of Ireland team. She served as Games Team Manager for Northern Ireland at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Australia.