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Ireland could give T20I debuts to six players in the upcoming West Indies series

Cricket Ireland announce introduction of pro contracts for women

Ireland news

Cricket Ireland have announced that professional contracts will be awarded to some of their women’s players for the first time.

The move comes following Ireland’s exit from the T20 World Cup. While Ireland impressed in part, their captain Laura Delany’s emotional press conference after her side’s defeat by Pakistan was arguably their campaign's standout moment.

“It’s so incredibly frustrating, because if we were professional, I wonder what the score would've been out there today,” she said. “To lose by 40 runs, again, that we genuinely believed we could win, it's very disappointing.”

It appears her pleas have been answered, though not every regular Irish player will be given a contract straightaway, with Cricket Ireland instead imitating how they introduced men’s contracts.

“A small number of part-time contracts will be offered in early 2019, with the plan to expand this programme over subsequent years,” said Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom.

“We are delighted to become one of a very select number of sports in Ireland to offer professional contracts to women players. It has been an ambition of ours for a number of years, and we now find ourselves in the position to push ahead with this much-needed improvement to our sport.”

“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.”

Cricket Ireland performance director Richard Holdsworth recognised the move as necessary to ensure Ireland keep pace with the top tier of teams.

We need to introduce new measures like this to remain competitive against the world’s best

“The standard of Irish women’s cricket has increased significantly in recent times, but so has the standard of all of the world’s top teams,” he said. “We need to introduce new measures like this to remain competitive against the world’s best and to push our game forward.”

Cricket Ireland also announced the list of 19 centrally contracted men’s players for 2019.

“We are pleased to have finalised the contracts ahead of 2019 – a year that will be one of the biggest in Irish cricket history,” said Holdsworth.

“Not only will we be playing our first men’s Test match away from home, but we host five Full Member nations during our summer, and following this we make a trip to Lord’s to play our inaugural Test match against England. The ‘international’ year will then conclude with a T20 World Cup Qualifier in October."
 
Holdsworth added, "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.

"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.
 
“Now is the time for emerging players looking to press for higher honours to step up and show their credentials, just like Tyrone Kane, James McCollum and Harry Tector have in joining the central contracts list this year.

"These players have earned their place through their performances and showing the necessary dedication and commitment to improving their games.”

Contracted players: Andrew Balbirnie, Peter Chase, George Dockrell, Tyrone Kane, Andrew McBrine, Barry McCarthy, James McCollum, Tim Murtagh*, Kevin O'Brien, William Porterfield, Stuart Poynter*, Boyd Rankin, James Shannon, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling*, Harry Tector, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young

(* denotes players with English county deals and therefore on part-time Irish contracts)

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