Linsey Smith, Hollie Armitage and Beth Langston have been awarded Regional Retainers for the north east of the Women’s Elite Domestic Structure.

In total, 25 players will represent the first tranche of professional women’s domestic cricketers across eight regions. When the 40 full-time contracts are awarded – which ECB intends to award this year, despite the repercussions of COVID-19 – all Regional Retainer players will progress on to those terms.

The players will adhere to strength and conditioning programmes and undertake certain online modules including anti-corruption and anti-doping education. They will also give some of their time for “good of the game” activities and appearances.

The recruitment process was driven by the eight regions and their respective Regional Directors of Women’s Cricket. Once the 40 full-time contracts are awarded, the players will be split evenly across the eight regions with five professional players at each region.

Danielle Hazell, North East Region Head Coach said: “Linsey (Smith) brings a vast amount of domestic experience through the county game and the Kia Super League. Also, with a taste of international cricket, I’m sure she is desperate to retain her place and has the ability to do so.

“Hollie (Armitage) is a Yorkshire lass and I’m delighted to have her on board. She had a very promising last year in the KSL and I’m sure will have international honours in her sights.

“Beth (Langston) is one of the fastest seamers in the country and again has had a taste of international cricket and will be a real spear head for our attack.”

James Carr, North East Regional Director of Cricket said: “I am really excited to work with Dani as Head Coach. Her experience in recent years on the field as a World Cup winner and longstanding international cricketer is just what we need at the helm as we embark on a new elite domestic cricket structure.

“The three players we have signed all have some great experience already yet room for further growth which is really encouraging for our flagship team here in the north east.”

Clare Conor, ECB Managing Director of Women’s Cricket said: “In what has been a challenging year for the whole game, it is pleasing to be able to support 25 women’s domestic cricketers by offering them Regional Retainers.

“In doing so, we are taking another step towards contracting our first cohort of full-time, professional players in the women’s domestic game.

“We know that in order for the women’s game to continue to grow, we need a strong and thriving domestic set-up to enable more women to be able to make a living from the game.

“Girls need to see visible role models and to know that a talent and performance system exists for them to fulfil their potential. I’m excited to see how these players progress with greater support over the next couple of years – it’s another significant step forward for our sport.”

The ECB’s Professional Game Group (PGG) continue to outline a number of opportunities for domestic play in 2020.

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