Otago Sparks. © Getty Images

In a breakthrough move earlier this year, New Zealand Cricket (NZC) had announced the creation of a new Women’s Master Agreement in mutual consent with the (NZC) and New Zealand Players’ Association. The action plan was to see the creation of as many as 79 contracts for women’s players – at both domestic and international levels.

Otago Sparks, on Tuesday (October 22), announced their group of nine players who will be offered contracts for the 2019-20 season. The new contracts provide players with financial support to reimburse them for preparation and playing time spent during a busy summer schedule.

Simon Forde, Otago Cricket manager of performance and talent, said the contracts were a positive move that will see improvement in the standard of the women’s game in New Zealand.

‘’I am certain players will see that there is now a serious pathway beginning to emerge in the women’s game which will inspire them to keep playing the game they enjoy,” Forde said. “Women’s cricket will grow and we need to ensure that we are providing the necessary support and playing opportunities to ensure that athletes have the opportunity to develop – contracts are a part of this.”

Aside from the nine domestically contracted players, Suzie Bates, Hayley Jensen and Katey Martin are all centrally contracted. All 12 players combined will combine to form the nucleus of Otago’s team for the 2019-20 season.

Sparks begin their one-day championship campaign against Central Hinds on November 16.

Domestically contracted players: Emma Black, Caitlin Blakely, Ella Brown, Eden Carson, Millie Cowan, Georgia Clarke, Olivia Gain, Bhagya Herath, Bella James.

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