Twenty-five female cricketers have received a regional retainer as part of a move to professionalise the women’s domestic game.
The retainers have been awarded by the eight new regional hubs.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had planned to introduce 40 full-time domestic contracts, but they were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The 25 players will later move on to one of the 40 new contracts, which are intended to be awarded later this year.
The regional hubs will provide year-round training and coaching support to the players.
It is understood that the retainers will be worth £1,000 per month.
Left-arm spinner Alex Hartley, 26, who won the World Cup with England in 2017, has been awarded a retainer after learning late last year that her central contract would not be renewed.
Scotland international sisters Kathryn and Sarah Bryce have also received retainers with the East Midlands region, but will remain available to play for Scotland as required.
Also included are England seamers Tash Farrant and Beth Langston, who both lost their central contracts in early 2019, and five players who currently hold England rookie contracts.
“We know that in order for the women’s game to continue to grow, we need a strong and thriving domestic set-up,” said Clare Connor, the ECB director of women’s cricket.
“Girls need to see visible role models. It is another significant step forward for our sport.”
The Hundred competition, in which the women were set to compete this year, has been postponed until 2021.
Once the 40 full-time contracts are in place, there will be five players in each of the eight regions.
Full list of player retainers & hubs
North East: Hollie Armitage, Beth Langston, Linsey Smith* (England women rookie)
North West: Georgie Boyce, Alex Hartley, Emma Lamb* (EWR), Ellie Threlkeld
West Midlands: Eve Jones, Marie Kelly, Issy Wong
East Midlands: Kathryn Bryce, Sarah Bryce
South West and Wales: Dani Gibson, Sophie Luff, Fi Morris
South Central: Georgia Adams, Tara Norris, Paige Scholfield
London and South East: Alice Davidson-Richards* (EWR), Sophia Dunkley* (EWR), Tash Farrant, Bryony Smith* (EWR)
London and East: Amara Carr, Naomi Dattani, Cordelia Griffith
*Players who have existing rookie contracts with England will remain on those contracts until the 40 full-time deals begin