In a bid to promote more professionalism in the sport, Cricket Ireland announced its first-ever full-time contracts for Ireland Women and almost tripled its annual expenditure to 1.5 million on Thursday (March 10). The board also declared that Ireland will play two series at home this summer after being qualified for the ICC ODI Championship. They are slated to host South Africa in a six-match LOI series in June, after that they will play a tri-series featuring Australia and Pakistan in July.
The incumbent head coach of the side Ed Joyce, who had taken up the role on an interim basis in July 2019, before being handed a full-time contract later has also been given a three-year extension.
Gary Wilson and Ryan Eagleson - who were recently appointed as the high performance specialists for the Ireland men's team will also provide the necessary support to the women's team in an attempt to bolster the side.
Ireland skipper Laura Delany was overwhelmed by the momentous decision, expressed her ecstasy, and thanked the rigorous efforts of the players who made it possible. “As a squad we are truly excited and thankful for this opportunity – it is something that many of us never would have dreamed of when we started out playing the sport we love. While thankful, though, we also acknowledge the hard work, sacrifice and commitment shown by the players to achieve the honour of representing our country at the highest levels," Delany said.
"And, as fortunate as the players here today are for having this opportunity, we know that we are standing on the shoulders of the giants that came before us. For many years, legends of our Irish women’s cricket have fought hard to achieve successes on and off the field. To the generations of women who came before us, we say thank you. You have helped us get here today, and we hope we can do you proud."
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The budget has been announced with efforts to build towards a more professional approach and to promote performance and will be spent on player contracts, their match fees, equipment, salaries of the coaching and the support staff, talent pathway among others.
“Last year we released our new Strategic Plan and our first-ever Women’s & Girls Cricket Action Plan. Both of these documents outlined Cricket Ireland’s national commitment to growing the sport from grassroots to elite levels. Today’s announcements underline our deep commitment to women’s and girls’ elite cricket and put us firmly on the path of not only becoming a major nation in world cricket, but a major sport in Ireland," said Warren Deutrom, chief executive of Cricket Ireland.
Deutrom believes that this monumental decision will help Cricket Ireland to flourish in the coming days and they are imitating the decisions taken by some of the leading cricket boards in the world.
“However, the work behind-the-scenes to get to this point has - in reality - been three years in the making. Coming off the back of the team’s performance at the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup in 2018, we – as an organisation – committed ourselves to a journey to professionalise women’s cricket. It was not only a good thing to do, it was the right thing to do. Women’s cricket’s time has come around the world – we’ve seen the incredible growth and professionalisation of the women’s game across several major nations like Australia, England and India and the strong focus on female cricket in the new ICC strategy. It’s now Ireland’s turn," Deutrom added.
Richard Holdsworth, High Performance Director for Cricket Ireland said that the governing body is committed towards taking the sport to an unattained level and will take the required steps for the same. He sees these steps as the beginning of a new dawn in the history of Ireland cricket.
“Today’s announcements demonstrate a clear intent to not only further develop our performance pathway, but now forge a career pathway for our women cricketers. To get where we are today has been a true journey - not a smooth journey, and certainly not a straightforward one, but we are finally seeing the delivery of commitments we have made over recent years," said Holdsworth.
“However, it is important to note that today’s announcements are not a case of ‘done and dusted’. This is not a final destination. This is just the start of our new era. In 2021 our women’s senior side qualified for the ICC Women’s Championship – we don’t want to just compete in this competition once, we want to stay there. We want to entrench ourselves in the top ranks of the women’s game. Today may be the culmination of three years work, but it also represents the first day of a new project. A project to keep us in the top tier and to not only participate, but truly compete against the top nations," he added.
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An elated Delany also added that the squad should enjoy the opportunity stating that they have earned the right to reach this stage where they will consistently playing cricket for Ireland.
“To the squad I say simply, enjoy it. Enjoy this opportunity – be thankful, but know that you’ve earned the right to stand where you are. This is Day One of what I hope is an incredible journey we will take together - it may get tough at times, it may be challenging, but it should be an experience like no other. To travel the world playing cricket for Ireland – there’s no better feeling,” Delany concluded.
International (full-time) contracts: Laura Delany, Shauna Kavanagh, Sophie MacMahon, Cara Murray, Celeste Raack, Eimear Richardson, Mary Waldron
Education (part-time) contracts: Ava Canning, Georgina Dempsey, Amy Hunter, Gaby Lewis, Louis Little, Jane Maguire, Leah Paul, Orla Prendergast, Rebecca Stokell
Non-retainer contracts: Rachel Delaney, Sarah Forbes, Hannah Little, Kate McEvoy
South Africa series:
- 3 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 1st T20I (Pembroke)
- 6 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 2nd T20I (Pembroke)
- 8 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 3rd T20I (Pembroke)
- 11 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 1st ODI (Clontarf)
- 14 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 1st ODI (Clontarf)
- 17 June 2022: Ireland Women v South Africa Women – 1st ODI (Clontarf)
The three ODIs will be Ireland Women’s first fixtures as part of the ICC Women’s Championship.
- 16 July 2022: Australia Women v Pakistan Women – T20I (Bready)
- 17 July 2022: Ireland Women v Australia Women – T20I (Bready)
- 19 July 2022: Ireland Women v Pakistan Women – T20I (Bready)
- 21 July 2022: Ireland Women v Australia Women – T20I (Bready)
- 23 July 2022: Pakistan Women v Australia Women – T20I (Bready)
- 24 July 2022: Ireland Women v Pakistan Women – T20I (Bready)