Naomi Dattani. © Western Storm.

Middlesex captain Naomi Dattani has admitted that the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) could have acted faster, especially after England’s 2017 World Cup win at home, in terms of building a professional base domestically.

“I’m a little bit envious having experienced club cricket in Australia a few times now,” Dattani was quoted as saying to the Stumped podcast by BBC.

“Being friends with some of the girls who have played in the WBBL and the kind of lifestyle they lead, how well looked after they have been financially and all the opportunities that have come through. It might be difficult, but they know that they are going to get some sort of reimbursements for all the hard work.”

Last October, the ECB announced a 20m pounds investment in women’s cricket offering 40 full-time professional contracts with national director Clare Connor saying on Wednesday (May 6) that the future of women’s game in England needs to be safeguarded.

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“It would have been great if the ECB have worked faster especially after the 2017 World Cup win. “It’s been three years and we’re only now starting to see professional contracts,” added Dattani, one of the players expected to receive a contract.

However, the ECB is still hoping to award those contracts in 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic. “I think things could have been a little bit faster, to try and keep up with the Australians and make it more competitive as we go along.”

Dattani was set to play for London Spirit in the inaugural Hundred season that has been deferred to 2021 due to the pandemic. The 26-year-old had previously travelled to Perth to develop her game before the county season started. “I would never take anything away from what I learned and the momentum I created, but it’s just a shame that it’s not being put in practice right now,” she lamented.

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“Financially it’s a really big stress for me right now. “I’m unemployed because I left my job before so I’m in a little bit of a sticky situation, so all I can do is hope that something positive happens very soon.” Asked about what could be future, she replied, “I think communication is the biggest thing.”

“If we had just more direct communication with a timeline of things as best they can, I think it would put a lot of girls’ minds at ease,” she added. In a recent video conference with reporters, Connor has admitted that men’s cricket needs to be given more priority this season if it helps preserve a long-term future for the women’s game.

“It’s going to be a big shame. The women’s game is on the rise now. The T20 World Cup final was a testament to that. I know it’s not a money-maker but just putting a game or a series on the television will help with the visibility,” she said.