Cricket Ireland has announced seven part-time retainer contracts for the Women’s senior international squad have been offered for 2021, with 12 non-retainer contracts also put on the table.
Merrion all-rounder Leah Paul is the one new name in the part-time list, earning the elevation thanks to her efforts in the Super Series.
The first recipient of the Damian Poder Scholarship, Leah's game benefitted hugely from a season playing in Australia and has really kicked on since.
(Leah Paul: Pic Rodney Smythe)
The 21 year-old finished the highest run-scorer, making 295 runs at an average of 49.17, with two half-centuries.
She formed half of a formidable opening partnership with the Series’ second highest run-scorer Gaby Lewis, and with her left-arm spin she makes a promising all-round option for Head Coach Ed Joyce.
The other six part-time contracts go again to Irish skipper Laura Delany (Leinster), Merrion's Celeste Raack, YMCA's Gaby Lewis and the Pembroke trio of Mary Waldron, Shauna Kavanagh and Orla Prendergast.
Twelve players have non-retainer contracts, which offer match fees, and some benefits in kind such as gym memberships, physios, strength and conditioning, nutrition and psychological benefits.
One of those is 15 year-old Instonians wicket-keeper batter Amy Hunter who scored her first Super Series half century this season.
There's no contract though for pace bowler Louise McCarthy who had been added back into the senior Performance squad in June by Ed Joyce and the selectors.
Carrie Archer, Chair of National Women’s Selectors, said: “2020 was a breakthrough year for a few players, particularly some of the newer names that have appeared on the national selectors radar – Georgina Dempsey and Jane Maguire would have been unfamiliar names to many at the start of the season, but their huge potential has been rewarded and I wish them well as they come in to the senior performance squad.
"Amy Hunter has been a prospect for a number of years now, and you could see her performances with the bat as well as with the gloves that she is starting to come into her own.”
Ireland Women haven't played a senior international since September 2019, but Richard Holdsworth offered hope of fixtures in 2021.
“2021 will be a crucial year for Irish women’s cricket - with a 50-over World Cup Qualifier in the offing and the ICC Women’s Championship approaching, it is critical that we prepare the squad for the battles ahead and give them the best chance to succeed.
“We know that it has been a while since the squad has seen international action, but if the recent Super 50 Series has shown anything, it was that there is plenty of talent and ambition amongst the players.
"That they could emerge from such a lengthy lockdown and put on such a high quality series of fixtures – it makes us very optimistic for the future, and if things go well then we are hoping that the squad will see some international action sooner rather than later.”
Non-retainer contracts: Eimear Richardson, Lara Maritz, Hannah Little, Louise Little ,Rebecca Stokell, Una Raymond-Hoey, Sophie MacMahon, Cara Murray, Georgina Dempsey, Rachel Delaney, Jane Maguire, Amy Hunter.
The Women’s Academy squad will be announced in early December.