New Zealand allrounder Jess Watkin, batter Katie Gurrey, and the 16-year-old uncapped Auckland Hearts left-arm spinner Fran Jonas are among eight up-and-coming young female players to have been offered financial support through the NZC's development contracts for the 2020-21 season.
The contracts, introduced in October last year, two months after the announcement of the Women's Master Agreement, give the NZC High Performance coaches a chance to work with the next generation of female cricketers and learn more about their all-round abilities and potential. Part of the criteria for selecting the development contracts list is that the players have the potential to become centrally contracted with the NZC in the future.
While Watkin (Central Districts) and Gurrey (Northern Districts), who have represented Zealand 15 and two times respectively, are the only two internationals in this year's pool, Jonas, who made her Hearts debut last season, is the youngest among them. Other contracted players include Bella Armstrong and Skye Bowden (Auckland), Rebecca Burns (Wellington), Eden Carson (Otago) and Jacinta Savage (Canterbury).
"Fran is most definitely a promising young cricketer with a calm, relaxed temperament," Nick White, the Hearts head coach, said. "She has a fluent, economical action and an excellent work ethic and this is sure to be a great opportunity to continue her development in the game.
"For us as coaches it's about ensuring we look after not just her cricket but also her well-being. She's still a 16-year-old and we need to be mindful of that as she progresses with her cricket."
Ant Sharp, the NZC's head of Women's High Performance, said the development contracts are part of the board's commitment to inject resources into the women's game.
"It's exciting to see a new wave of women's cricketers coming through our Major Association system," Sharp said. "Fran is perfect for this programme. We get to learn more about her as a person as well as developing her already exciting skill set.
"These contracts are about giving up-and-coming female cricketers a chance to develop their games by utilising the best coaching resources in the country."