It was announced recently that Sophie Luff, Fi Morris, Dani Gibson, Alex Griffiths, Georgia Hennessy and Nat Wraith were named as Western Storm’s allocated professional players.
Following the announcement, Sophie expressed her delight at once again being able to represent a region that is so close to her heart.
“Anyone who knows me knows that Storm has been a massive part of my life over the last few years and when I step out on to the field I feel incredibly proud to be representing my region. The South West is in my blood and it’s a place that means so much to me, so it’s really special to be able to represent this part of the world. To lead this team this season was a real highlight for me and hopefully that can continue for a number of years.
“This is something that I’ve worked really hard for and I feel lucky to have earned the right to be able to call myself a professional cricketer. It’s still sinking in really that I can now say that I’m a cricketer when people ask me what I do. This is exactly the development that the game needed. The fact that the ECB have been able to issue these contracts given the year that everyone has had is great for the sport. This shows the direction that the women’s game is going in and hopefully there will be even more contracts on offer over the next few years as the game continues to get even more professional.
“It’s really exciting times, especially for the likes of Alex, Nat and Dani who are taking their first steps into professional cricket. For them to now have the opportunity to be able to invest time into their development is great for them and also for Western Storm.”
Fi Morris, Storm’s Bowler of the Year in 2020, is also looking forward to another year in green and black. “I’m really excited to be playing for Western Storm again next year,” she said. “To have a full winter ahead of me where I can work on my skills will hopefully mean that I can hit the ground running in the summer.
“We’ve got so much talent in the squad and it’s a really exciting place to be. It’s the best team that I’ve ever played for. It’s such a professional environment and everyone is working as hard as they can for each other. There’s a great atmosphere off the pitch and in the dressing room too. The staff care so much about Western Storm and you can see how much they care about the players. They’ve definitely got our best interests at heart and that’s a great environment to work in.”
Danielle Gibson is a familiar face to Western Storm supporters, and she was over the moon to be offered a contract. “It’s so exciting to be back with Western Storm for another year,” she said. “This has come at a really good time for me because I’m still quite young and I can’t wait to see how this is going to progress. Western Storm means such a lot to me. I’ve been with them since I was 16 and it’s always been like a family to me.
“This is like a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to be able to say that my job is cricket, and now I can! It’s so good that the ECB have implemented this system.”
Georgia Hennessy’s eye-catching performances this season have also resulted in her being offered a contract. After putting pen to paper, she said: “This is amazing. It’s great that I can now really focus on putting time and effort into getting better as a cricketer with a really good group of girls. It’s really exciting to see that girls can get this kind of support from the ECB.
“Western Storm have been amazing for me. I’ve enjoyed my cricket the most when I’ve been playing here. Everyone connected with Storm supports us really well.”
Wicketkeeper Nat Wraith is also looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. “This is very exciting for me,” she said. “It’s great to be able to have the opportunity to get some high-quality training in during the winter.
“A few years ago, I would never have thought that I would be getting paid to do what I really enjoy. This is so good for the women’s game.
“I feel like Western Storm is my home now and it’s a really good environment. I’ve grown up watching them during the first years of the KSL and being a supporter, so to be contracted to the team now is crazy. If you’d have told me a few years ago that this would be happening I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Alex Griffiths said: “This means the world to me. It’s quite surreal to be a professional cricketer at my age and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet. It’s a really exciting time for the women’s game.”
Main image: The six contracted players plus England bowler Katie George.