Kelly Castle Awarded Full-Time Contract for the Sunrisers


Today, the England and Wales Cricket Board centrally announced that the eight regional teams within the new Women’s Elite domestic structure have confirmed their allocation of professional players for the 2021 season, with 41 female cricketers signing full-time contracts.

Essex Women’s Captain, Kelly Castle is one of the five players awarded contracts by the Sunrisers who played their games at The Cloudfm County Ground during the inaugural 2020 season.

Sunrisers, the regional side comprising Middlesex, Essex, Northamptonshire, Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), and the five national counties of Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk and Bedfordshire and Huntingdonshire, have awarded contracts to Amara Carr, Kelly Castle, Naomi Dattani, Jo Gardner and Cordelia Griffith.

Earlier this year in June, Sunrisers initially awarded regional retainers to each of Carr, Dattani and Griffith for the 2020 season, however they, along with Castle and Gardner have now all progressed on to full-time terms.

Each of Carr, Dattani and Griffith play with Middlesex Cricket, whilst Castle and Gardner become the first female players to come through Essex’s and Northamptonshire’s respective ranks to earn professional contracts. Castle is the current Essex Women’s Captain, whilst Gardner moved from Northamptonshire to play with Warwickshire Women ahead of the 2017 season.

Danni Warren, Regional Director of Women’s Cricket of the Sunrisers – London & East Region, commented on Kelly’s progression into a full-time player: “Kelly is a player who everyone in this region has been aware of for a number of years. From seeing her dominate CAG to her emergence as a leader through taking on the captaincy of Essex Women. And now having had the pleasure of working with her over the last year or so, it is clear she has a lot of talent that we cannot wait to help harness.

“Kelly works extremely hard and brings a level of maturity and quiet determination to the group. She was one of our summer success stories, playing a key role in the middle overs with the bat and on occasions with the ball.

“Kelly’s success is testament to the fantastic pathway programme that Essex Cricket run. They have a proud history of developing elite and international cricketers, and all at Sunrisers are excited to see Kelly join this list.”

ECB Managing Director of Women’s Cricket, Clare Connor, said: “We’re delighted that these 41 young women are able to call themselves full-time professional cricketers and we wish them every success.

“The introduction of these 41 professional players, in addition to our 17 Centrally Contracted England Women’s players is the most significant step forward for the women’s game in recent years.

“In terms of the health of women’s cricket in England and Wales, we cannot overestimate the importance of these 41 players having the opportunity to train and work on their skills full-time, with access to high-quality coaching and facilities across the eight regions.

“Today’s news is not only wonderful for the players themselves, but it also represents a step-change for our whole domestic game and for young girls who will now be able to see more opportunity and aspiration in front of them.

“When you add in the profile opportunity of The Hundred next year, the landscape looks even more exciting. After a challenging year in the wake of the pandemic, I’m really pleased with the progress we’ve made in 2020, just one year after launching our action plan to transform women’s and girls’ cricket.”