Could this mean the extension of Charlotte Edwards' very successful career? (©GettyImages)
Could this mean the extension of Charlotte Edwards' very successful career? (©GettyImages).

England women can only gain from new central contracts

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When, back in February, the ECB announced that they would significantly invest in England women's cricket it was seen as a major breakthrough for women's cricket in this country and around the globe.

Those players who have now been announced as the 18 centrally contracted players are professional players, with appropriate wage rises, that will enable them to concentrate on playing cricket for their country rather than having to look outside of cricket for financial benefits.

Women's cricket has come far in such a short space of time. Even in the nineties there were very few incentives to play women's cricket with the exception of wearing the three lions with pride. Now women's cricket can plan ahead for the future, not only with the current International side, but also with grass-roots girls cricket with such a large financial investment on the cards.

Current captain Charlotte Edwards is an icon in England women's cricket and current and future players will look back on her role as a player and spokesperson for England cricket and realise just how much she has contributed to these recent breakthroughs.

Who would have thought that not long ago women were unable to enter the Long Room at Lords and now Wisden has named Charlotte Edwards as one of their five Cricketers of the Year this year.

Despite no central contracts previously the England women's team have been very successful in recent times. Despite defeat to Australia in the recent World Twenty20 final this year England have won Ashes series victories in both 2013 and 2014 and prior to that they captured both the World Twenty20 and World Cup in 2009.

England women's cricket is clearly in a good place at the moment on the field and these recent announcements will hopefully aid further success off the field.

Cricket though is not all about money but there is no doubt that money helps. Those eighteen players selected as the first beneficiaries of central contracts will hopefully have prolonged careers now that they will receive the best possible care. Equally any youngsters who are breaking through into the national side can look forward to longer careers themselves.

The recent World Twenty20 tournament showed just how far women's cricket has come. Their matches were televised around the world and were scheduled prior to the men's games in order to highlight their skills further. Although crowds were sparse during the tournament it is clear that such worldwide exposure can only be good for the game.

In England crowds for women's cricket have improved significantly.

Women's cricket in England will undoubtedly benefit from this recent announcement but it could also prove to be a huge moment for cricket around the world and perhaps women's sport in general.

The eighteen England women's centrally contracted players are as follows:

Charlotte Edwards, Tammy Beaumont, Natasha Farrant, Lydia Greenway, Laura Marsh (all Kent); Katherine Brunt, Danielle Hazell, Lauren Winfield (all Yorkshire); Georgia Elwiss, Sarah Taylor (Sussex); Jenny Gunn, Danielle Wyatt (Nottinghamshire); Rebecca Grundy, Amy Jones (Warwickshire); Heather Knight (Berkshire); Kathryn Cross (Lancashire); Anya Shrubsole (Somerset); Natalie Sciver (Surrey).

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