Worcestershire Women’s Rapids all-rounder, Ellie Anderson, has been awarded a Pay As You Play (PAYP) contract by Central Sparks.
Anderson was a member of the inaugural Sparks Academy in 2021 and sees the PAYP deal as another step forward.
But her long-term goal is to follow in the footsteps of Rapids team-mate, Charis Pavely, and secure a full-time professional contract.
Wolverhampton-born Anderson has developed through the Worcestershire pathway from the age of 11.
She was a key member of the Women’s Rapids side which won the ECB T20 Cup Group Two in 2022 with 12 wickets at an average of 12.00.
Anderson and Pavely were both announced as members of the inaugural Central Sparks Academy in 2021.
Last winter the duo were also team-mates as England Under-19s reached the ICC Women’s World Cup final in South Africa.
Anderson had a memorable tournament with eight wickets at 5.62, including 5-12 against the West Indies in Potchefstroom, the best analysis of the tournament.
She was also named in the ICC team of the tournament.
Anderson then made her breakthrough into the Sparks senior side last summer, playing four matches in the Charlotte Edwards Trophy, which included a New Road debut against North West Thunder, and one in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
She was then a member of the victorious Southern Brave squad which won The Hundred and, although she did not play a game, the experience has given her the hunger for more of the same next summer.
Anderson said: “The Pay As You Play (PAYP) contract is a step in the right direction and the next step is the full-time pro contract.
“I couldn’t have had a better year and am really pleased with what it has brought me. It has only done good things for my development really.
“Shorter term, I’d like to be involved with The Hundred again.
“That is probably my goal, but long term I’d love to have a full-time pro contract.”
Anderson is quick to recognise the importance of the Worcestershire pathway in enabling her to reach her current position with Sparks.
She said: “I was on the Worcestershire Pathway from the age of 11. It has been a massive help.
“Without Worcestershire, I definitely would have got nowhere near Sparks.
“I loved growing up together with all of my team-mates. I do feel like we’ve all grown up together and we are all supporting each other’s journeys.
“It’s just like a ‘friends for life’ situation.
“Charis and myself have always worked together. She’s always come to me and spoken about her cricket. We have just supported each other really well.
The Under-19 World Cup experience will live long in the memory for Anderson.
She said: “The World Cup was an amazing experience and I loved it, had such a great time, learnt so much and I enjoyed seeing the next generation of international talent.
“All those girls I played against in the World Cup we will probably see some of their names coming through into the first teams soon.”
The first team involvement with Sparks was also a significant breakthrough.
She said: “I was really delighted to have made my debut. It has been quite a long time coming and to do it at New Road was even better.
“The difference in standard is definitely noticeable just because everyone is stronger and more experienced as well.
“They hit the ball harder, and have a bit more knowledge of the game, compared to playing at Academy and second team level.
“If you are playing against better players, that is going to make you better.”
A summer of progression was capped off with The Hundred
She said: “I loved it. I was really lucky that Lotty (Charlotte Edwards) chose me to come along with them (Southern Brave).
“I relished the whole experience, getting stuck in with all the players, meeting new people, new coaches and learning everything I could.
“The more people you meet, everyone knows different stuff. I learned so many different things from different people.
“My goal once I got back from South Africa (Under-19 Word Cup) this year, was to get in The Hundred and see what I could do.
“Now I’ve had a taste of it, I kind of want to do it again. Even if I don’t get the opportunity to play, I’m still learning and I just want to grab it if I get an opportunity.”