Yorkshire Diamonds spinner Katie Levick has called for the growth of professionalism in women’s cricket to continue until every regional team can boast an entire squad of full-time players.
The first round of the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy gets under way on Saturday, with Levick lining up for the defending champions after last year’s maiden victory in the tournament.
Levick delivered the final over of the competition, closing out a two-run win over Southern Vipers at Lord’s, to produce a crowning moment in her first season out of the amateur ranks.
For Levick, who acts as a player representative for the professional cricketers’ association and previously combined her leg-spin craft with her job as a marketing manager, the progress must not end there.
“It’s been an incredible shift from what we could once have hoped for. Less than two years ago I had a job as well as doing this,” Levick told the PA news agency.
“Previously you had to be in the best 15 in the country to earn any sort of money from cricket. Now there is an opportunity to earn a good wage and you don’t have to be playing for England to represent at a very high standard. I think that’s great for the women’s game.
“It has been progressing every year but obviously we want a full squad of professionals and we’re conscious that we need a staffing structure to support that. There’s no point in having 15 professional girls and not having the staff. So we’re pushing for bigger infrastructures.
“Hopefully the contracts will keep increasing and we can get a full squad of girls fully focused on cricket, because that is how we’re going to get the best product out on the pitch. There are always things you want to see progressing, but the speed of things has been very encouraging for us and it’s great to be part of it.”
The Diamonds begin their title defence against Western Storm at Headingley, with the Vipers hosting Sunrisers, Thunder taking on South East Stars and Central Sparks visiting Trent Bridge to play the Blaze in the newly-formed side’s first fixture since replacing Loughborough Lightning.
After three years as runners-up, victory at the home of cricket was a sweet moment for everyone associated with the Diamonds and captain Holly Armitage has the hunger for more despite losing Nat Sciver-Brunt, Linsey Smith and retired duo Katherine Sciver-Brunt and Jenny Gunn.
“Lord’s was an amazing feeling, if we could go back to that day we would do it over and over again,” she said.
“This year we are looking to go back to back. As a professional cricketer you’ve always got that hunger to win and having been on the losing side a few times, being on the winning side was an amazing feeling. You want to have it as much as you can in your career.”