South East Stars batter Sophia Dunkley has been awarded her first full England contract, replacing Kirstie Gordon in the 17-player contracted squad.
Dunkley made her England debut at the T20 World Cup in the West Indies in 2018, and has subsequently made 15 T20 international appearances, most recently last winter during England’s tour of New Zealand. Having made a fine start to the regional season, scoring 104* and 92 for South East Stars, she is widely expected to be a significant part of England’s plans for the next 18 months and beyond.
Dunkley was named as one of South East Stars’ regionally contracted players last year, so technically the Stars now appear to be one contracted players short (all regions in theory should have five centrally funded “pros”); while Kirstie Gordon has moved over to Lightning, who now have a 6th “pro” on their books.
Gordon’s “parachute” move to Lightning illustrates an additional, hitherto unsung benefit of the regional system: it means she avoids the fate of Tash Farrant, who went directly from “England Pro” to “Unemployed” within weeks of losing her England contract in 2019.
Assuming she doesn’t make any further England appearances, Gordon would requalify for Scotland next summer; though if she chose to represent Scotland anew, she would be ineligible to ever play for England again without special dispensation from the ICC. (See section 2 of the ICC’s Eligibility Regs.)
The latest set of England contracts will run until October 2022, to align them with the regional contracts (which run annually between October and October) and ensure that it is easier for players to smoothly transition between the two set-ups.
England Contracted Players (May 2021 – October 2022)
- Tammy Beaumont (Lightning)
- Katherine Brunt (Northern Diamonds)
- Kate Cross (Thunder)
- Freya Davies (South East Stars)
- Sophia Dunkley (South East Stars)
- Sophie Ecclestone (Thunder)
- Georgia Elwiss (Southern Vipers)
- Sarah Glenn (Central Sparks)
- Katie George (Western Storm)
- Heather Knight (Western Storm)
- Amy Jones (Central Sparks)
- Nat Sciver (Northern Diamonds)
- Anya Shrubsole (Western Storm)
- Mady Villiers (Sunrisers)
- Fran Wilson (Sunrisers)
- Lauren Winfield-Hill (Northern Diamonds)
- Danni Wyatt (Southern Vipers)