Central Sparks have today named Eve Jones, Marie Kelly, Issy Wong, Emily Arlott and Gwen Davies as full-time professional players. The five players are among 41 elite women's players across England and Wales who have received full time domestic contracts.
In June of this year, Jones, Kelly, and Wong were included on regional retainer contracts. Today’s announcement sees Arlott and Davies added to Central Sparks’ professional ranks, with all contracts enabling players to access year-round training and join the Professional Cricketers’ Association.
Left hand top order bat and left-arm bowler Eve Jones is captain of the Central Sparks and made the move to Warwickshire from Lancashire having captained the red rose side. Jones has experienced winters overseas in Australia and New Zealand and was previously a member of the England Academy squad.
Opening bat Marie Kelly has experience in the KSL representing Loughborough Lightning in 2017 and Southern Vipers in 2019, the final year of the competition. Kelly is a product of the Warwickshire pathway and she captained the Bears to the Vitality Women’s County T20 in 2019, in which she was the tournament’s leading run scorer with 219 runs at an average of 36.33.
The youngest of the five players at just 18, Issy Wong is widely recognised as one of the most exciting fast bowlers in the women’s game. Wong broke into the Warwickshire senior team in 2019 after representing Worcestershire on loan in 2018 and subsequently earned a call-up to Southern Vipers in its final season.
Pace bowler Emily Arlott has represented Worcestershire throughout age group cricket all the way to the Senior Women’s team. She has featured as part of the England Women’s Academy and was crowned Worcestershire Women’s Rapids Players’ Player of The Year in 2019.
Multi-talented wicket-keeper and batter Gwen Davies has represented Wales in football, as well as having played for both Yorkshire Diamonds and Surrey Stars in the KSL. She was an instrumental part in the Warwickshire Bears 2019 T20 Cup winning squad and currently balances professional cricket with being Director of Girls’ Cricket at Shrewsbury School.
Eve Jones and Marie Kelly have also been today named as players in Birmingham Phoenix Women’s Hundred team, alongside leading New Zealand all-rounder Sophie Devine and Central Sparks & England wicket-keeper Amy Jones.
Regional Director of Women’s Cricket, Laura Macleod said:
“This is a special moment for this set of players in the West Midlands. Never before has this opportunity of being a professional cricketer been available outside of an England contract. We have a diverse set of players in Emily, Eve, Gwen, Marie and Issy, and our role is to develop them both as cricketers and people. From now onwards talented female players in the region can aspire to be a professional cricketer within our Central Sparks programme.”
Central Sparks is formed of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire and is one of eight regional hubs developed by the ECB as part of a new structure for elite women’s domestic cricket.