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Huge step forward as Cricket Ireland announce professional contracts for women

Part-time deals will be initially offered in early 2019.

CRICKET IRELAND HAS today announced a major step forward for its women’s national team with the introduction of professional playing contracts for the first time. 

The governing body says a small number of part-time contracts will be offered in early 2019, with the plan to expand this programme over subsequent years.

Ireland v Bangladesh - Women's T20 International Ireland recently competed at the WT20 in West Indies. Source: Seb Daly/SPORTSFILE

The Cricket Ireland board endorsed the provision of women’s senior playing contracts after a recommendation at a recent board meeting.

“The professionalism shown by our senior women’s team during preparation, qualification and performance at the recent ICC T20 World Cup was a demonstration that this side of our sport is ready to progress and grow,” Warren Deutrom, Cricket Ireland chief executive, said. 

“Once again, we are grateful to Sport Ireland for their support in investing in this important development for Irish women’s cricket, enabling us to move into this exciting new period in our sport.”

The Ireland women’s national team recently competed at the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, but lost all four of their pool games with defeats to Australia, Pakistan, India and New Zealand.

The end of the tournament also saw four long-serving players announce their international retirement with the Joyce twins, Isobel and Cecelia, Clare Shillington and Ciara Metcalfe calling time on their careers.

Cricket Ireland expects to announce 2019 fixture details for Aaron Hamilton’s side in January, as it continues negotiations with other Full Member nations.

Meanwhile, the 19 players awarded men’s senior contracts for 2019 have been confirmed by Cricket Ireland performance director Richard Holdsworth.

16 full-time contracts have been handed out, while three players have signed on part-time details as they are still playing English county cricket, namely Paul Stirling, Stuart Poynter and Tim Murtagh.

It is a huge year for Irish cricket with the senior men’s team set to play its second Test against Afghanistan, as well as welcoming England to Malahide for an ODI in May before the much-anticipated Test match against England at Lord’s later in the summer.

“There is no secret that Irish men’s cricket is coming to the end of a cycle, partly signified in 2018 with the retirement of Ed Joyce, Niall O’Brien and John Anderson,” Holdsworth said.

“Through this year’s central contracts — combined with the forthcoming Emerging Player contracts that will be announced in early 2019 — you will start to see a clear direction that we are heading in our succession planning for the future.” 

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