Almost three years after she was discarded by England, Tash Farrant has regained her central contract.
Farrant was recalled to the England squad by coach Lisa Keightley for the tour of New Zealand earlier this year, and was selected in all of the England squads this summer, so this is no surprise. Her left-arm seam will be seen as a key point of difference ahead of the forthcoming Women’s Ashes, as well as England’s World Cup title defence in New Zealand in 2022.
It’s unclear what this might mean for the future of fellow left-arm seamer Katie George, who has not played an international since July 2018.
On the other hand, Farrant’s re-elevation to the England team will offer hope that there is a “way back” for formerly contracted players such as Alex Hartley and Beth Langston, thanks to the new regional deals on offer.
Interestingly, it was coach Mark Robinson who originally identified the need for such a system when he dropped Farrant from his squad – telling CRICKETher:
“For Beth [Langston] and Tash their decision now is: do I play KSL and county cricket, then the year after, when hopefully semi-professionalism comes in, they do that; or do they go on to a different career? [But] Tash might re-invent herself – she could be a major player.”
It is a statement that has proved prescient – Farrant did indeed begin a new career, spending a year as head of girls’ cricket at Trent College in Nottingham – but she found a way back via a South East Stars pro contract awarded in October 2020.
Meanwhile, South East Stars will be identifying a sixth player to progress to a professional contract, taking the total number of female “professionals” in England to 68. (The status of Fran Wilson, who announced her retirement from international cricket last month, remains unclear.)