The Blaze Announce Contracted Players Ahead Of 2023
The Blaze - the Trent Bridge based elite regional women’s team representing the East Midlands - have announced their roster of contracted cricketers for the upcoming season.
Five players who were previously on deals under the team’s former guise of Lightning have had their contracts renewed: Marie Kelly, Kathryn Bryce, Kirstie Gordon, Sarah Bryce and Lucy Higham.
Top-order batter Georgie Boyce, who is originally from Nottingham, and fast-bowler Sophie Munro have meanwhile been added to the contracted staff.
“We are at the dawn of an exciting new chapter for women’s cricket in the East Midlands, and as we assume a new identity and enjoy being based at Trent Bridge, it is really important to have some continuity in terms of playing personnel,” said Regional Director James Cutt.
“They have become a really cohesive group over the last few years, and enjoy playing together; that’s really important given how much time they will spend with each other through the winter and into both competitions next year.
“We are delighted to add to the squad with the quality of Georgie, who has proven her credentials year on year since establishing herself in the North West. It’s great that she has a local connection, too, and I have no doubt she will transition into the group easily.
“Sophie has worked really hard to be in a position where she earns this contract,” Cutt continued.
“It gives her a platform to work on her game, develop her skills, and be the best cricketer she can be. That’s a huge opportunity for Sophie, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she flourishes over the next few years.”
Boyce, 24, is returning to Nottinghamshire having represented the county of her birth and Lightning until 2017. In 2022, the right-hander amassed 309 runs at 61.8 in T20 cricket for Lancashire, before contributing a further 314 across 50- and 20-over cricket in regional competitions for Thunder.
Munro, who plays her county cricket for Nottinghamshire and represented Trent Rockets in the most recent edition of The Hundred, makes the step up to a contract, having previously been on a retainer.
The former England Academy all-rounder played 11 matches for Lightning in 2022 across the Charlotte Edwards Cup and Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, taking six wickets. She also hit her maiden List A half-century, scoring 50 against Thunder in the 50-over competition.
Kelly and Gordon extend their stays in the East Midlands having represented England A in the summer against New Zealand - the former bludgeoning a 59-ball 89 as Tammy Beaumont’s side cruised to an eight-wicket victory, whilst Scotland internationals Sarah Bryce and Kathryn Bryce join The Blaze having represented their country in the T20 World Cup Qualifiers in Abu Dhabi in September.
Nottinghamshire captain Higham will begin her seventh season representing the East Midlands’ regional outfit in 2023, with the former Leicestershire all-rounder ever-present for Lightning in 2022, taking 12 wickets across all formats.
The players on contracts are supplemented by those currently on winter retainers, who are also currently taking part in pre-season training at Trent Bridge.
Those players are: Teresa Graves, Beth Harmer, Ella Claridge, Grace Ballinger, Cassidy McCarthy, Josie Groves and Michaela Kirk.
In February, three new contracts will be awarded, bringing the total to 10.
“We will work with those players on winter retainers to ensure they are in the best possible position to earn a contract in February,” Cutt added.
“Those on retainers will drive their standards in training throughout the winter, and a strong pre-season will give them the best chance of stepping up to a contract in the new year, and, on a wider level, give us the best opportunity to be successful in the summer.”
International players, who are contracted centrally to the England and Wales Cricket Board, will be assigned regional teams in due course, with Beaumont the solitary incumbent from the 2022 season having represented Lightning since 2020.
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