Worcestershire Women’s Rapids all-rounder, Charis Pavely, has completed a memorable 2023 by signing her first professional contract with Central Sparks.
Pavely has been a key part of the Rapids success during the past two seasons after being part of the pathway since the age of 12.
She was a member of the England side, along with Rapids team-mate Ellie Anderson, which reached the final of last winter’s ICC Under-19 World Cup.
Pavely was selected for the inaugural Central Sparks Academy in 2021 and this summer played in six Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and two Charlotte Edwards Cup matches.
The Redditch born player also featured in The Hundred in 2023 for Birmingham Phoenix.
Now she has been awarded her first pro contract by the Sparks.
Pavely said: “It’s been a great year and you couldn’t really write it to be honest with everything that has happened.
“With the contract, it is really nice to be in a position where I can play cricket as a full-time job.
“I can focus more on the cricket side, but I’d still like to do a bit of coaching and I like to do it in schools because that’s how I started playing cricket.
“If no-one came to do that with me, then I wouldn’t be playing cricket.”
Pavely recognises the importance of the Worcestershire Pathway in enabling her to obtain the current position in her career.
She said: “I first became involved when I was 12-13 and it is probably the most important aspect as regards me developing into the player I am now.
“If I had never got picked up by the county, I would never have got picked up by Sparks.
“I didn’t trials the normal way with Worcestershire. I started playing cricket quite late.
“I got a call from Kelly Ellison, when she rang the Under-13s pathway, and I played club cricket for Bromsgrove where she was coach.
“She was short for a county game and she called me up and said’ would you play’ against Wales, and that was in the age group above what I should have been in.
“I did the rest of the season with them, then went back to my own age group, tried that, and then they were short for an Under-18s game and I played that when I was 12 and it went from there.
“It all happened quite quickly and it has been a bit of a whirlwind to be honest.
“County cricket is so important for development. It is more games, more opportunity and, for the girls coming through the pathway, it is about county performances and regular appearances, and what you can do to get spotted by regional talent managers.
“The more games you play, the more runs and wickets you score and take, the better.
“Women’s cricket is in a healthy place. There’s a lot of interest and that’s what the game needed.”
Pavely said she took her early inspiration from Emily Arlott who has been a stalwart performer for the Women’s Rapids and Sparks and been on the verge of making her international debut for England.
She said: “When I started, Emily Arlott was doing a bit of coaching at the time and throughout the pathway, I always looked up to Emily and see how far she has progressed.
“When Sparks came about, she got a contract and was able to go into that world and play professional cricket and I’m pleased to follow the same path.”
Pavely and Rapids team-mate, Ellie Anderson, were members of the England side which reached the ICC Under-19 World Cup final but the semi-final against Australia is the stand-out game for her.
She said: “To be honest, although we got to the final, that semi-final was the biggest game of cricket I’ve been involved in, to be 99 all out and then to bowl them out for 98 was incredible.
“I was very proud. I don’t come from a cricketing family and it was quite surreal for them to see me representing my country!
“All the travelling was worth it in the end, giving up your evenings, weekends, your social life sometimes.”
Pavely then went onto play a total of eight games for the Sparks in the Charlotte Edwards Cup and Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy.
She said: “I started playing the back end of last season and made my T20 debut at Bristol and played eight games, the last eight, which was a nice opportunity to get.
“To get into the senior side is a good step forward and it’s great to see that the pathway actually works how it is supposed to.
“Quite a lot of time, with academies, boys and girls, only a few who do make it so it’s nice.”
Pavely’s special year continued with her selection to play for Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred.
She said: “If you had said to me a month before the Hundred that you’d be bowling the first ball for Phoenix in the first game, I probably wouldn’t have believed you.
“The highest level I’d probably bowled before was Academy cricket. I bowled one over for England Under-19s.
“For them to turn around and say ‘do you want to bowl at Jemimah Rodrigues’ (India international). I said ‘alright, cool.’
“Those sort of challenges inspire you. It was such a good team to play for because everyone was considered on an equal footing and everyone had the opportunity to have the same opportunity in games.
“It was then up to you what you put in and worked on as to whether you played or not.”
Worcestershire Women’s Rapids Captain, Chloe Hill, said: “I’m really pleased for Charis to earn her first professional contract.
“She has shown her capabilities for the Rapids and Central Sparks and also played in a World Cup final.
“Charis has made great strides and the contract is the next step forward for her.”