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Introducing the Women in Cricket Employee Network’s Inspirational Women of 2023

23 outstanding women are nominated in recognition of their incredible achievements in 2023.

Campaigning champions, coaching stars, team players, allies, and leaders of transformative programmes are among those hailed for their remarkable accomplishments in this year’s Women in Cricket Employee Network’s (WCEN) Inspirational Women awards.

Among a flood of nominations from across the whole game, women from the turf industry, marketing and comms, community champions, and cricket leaders were all praised for their efforts in 2023.

For some, their achievements mark the culmination of years of effort. Others have been key figures for allyship and have made a significant impact in triggering important change in the game. But whatever reason lies behind each individual nomination, all 23 demonstrate something special about women in cricket and their momentous impact on the game.

Join us in celebrating these remarkable women, who represent what our sport is all about, by reading the full list below and seeing a snippet of each nomination.

Women in Cricket Employee Network’s (WCEN) Inspirational Women of 2023

A selection of the outstanding women nominated in recognition of their incredible achievements

Aimee Higson-Dibb – Lancashire Cricket Foundation

Just 12 months into the role as a Cricket Development Officer across Manchester and Tameside, and Aimee is flying! Her character is to just get stuck in and move projects forward. Her bubbly persona has had a positive impact both across the business and with the clubs she works with.”

Becca Garrard – Yorkshire Cricket

“Becca was a driving force behind the launch of the Yorkshire and Proud supporter’s group in the summer of 2023, which is open to both members of the LGBT+ community and allies. As part of this, Becca launched and runs social media channels for the group and has been an ally and advocate for members of this community. Becca has highlighted important campaigns. This includes creating a safe space and platform for Northern Diamonds player Rachel Slater to open up about living with ADHD.”

Chloe Barker – Lancashire Cricket Foundation

“Chloe is just 12 months into her role and has changed how we use our social media platforms! We have regular engaging content as well as using the channels to their full potential. Chloe has grown our followers, reach and interactions. She has also stepped out of her comfort zone and delivered training sessions for the staff on how they can use social media more in their day-to-day work.”

Deejay Thanki – Leicestershire and Rutland

“Deejay is phenomenally dedicated to the sport, always encouraging the children to go above and beyond, and most importantly growing cricket amongst young girls. Having Deejay as our coach, we are so lucky to have such a successful and enthusiastic woman who is the perfect role model for young females within the sport and across the East Midlands.”

Eloise Maxa – Devon Cricket Foundation

“Eloise has worked as a casual coach for the Devon Cricket Foundation for the last two years, mostly delivering the secondary school girls programme, but also as a coach in our pathway programme. Feedback from the schools has been amazing and the inspiration and impact she had at Teign School led to their nomination and consequent runner up position in the ‘Secondary School of the Year’ as part of the Chance to Shine Programme.”

Fi Watherston – England and Wales Cricket Board

“Fi has been doing the maternity leave cover for Cordelia Brown at ECB as Head of National Programmes. Fi has moved the team forward significantly in the last year, never ducking from the difficult challenges. The team and the whole area of national programmes has benefited hugely from this momentum, and she leaves it in a much better place.”

Helen Fagg-Lenihan – Kent

“Helen is Senior Manager for Women and Girls Community Cricket and this past year has taken disability cricket under her remit as well. She is determined, energetic, passionate and committed to making this an inclusive sport for women.”

Dr Jane Powell – Yorkshire Cricket

“Jane became Yorkshire's first female president in its history in April 2023. Since then, Jane has gone above and beyond in her unpaid role for Yorkshire Cricket. As well as being an incredibly positive and proactive spokesperson for the Club, she has helped raise significant charitable funds for a number of good causes and inspired the next generation with visits to schools and cricket clubs. Jane has also championed disability cricket through her ECB Disability Performance Manager role.”

Jasmine Naeem Ashraf – Lancashire

“Jasmine is the first British Muslim female professional umpire and an inspiration to many across the cricket world, in both the men’s and women’s game. Proud to represent Lancashire no matter where she is, county or country. She keeps inspiring us and the next generation to love not only cricket but each other.”

Jasmine Nicholls – Yorkshire Cricket

“Jasmine joined the groundstaff team at Headingley early in 2023 and has celebrated a brilliant year with the club. Some of her highlights include helping prepare pitches for Yorkshire Cricket across all formats and being part of the award-winning team that prepared the fabulous conditions in the Test during the Men’s Ashes series, which resulted in a memorable match at Headingley. This hard work was recognised at the Grounds Manager of the Year Awards 2023.”

Jessica Platts – Yorkshire Cricket

“Jess joined YCCC at the end of 2022. The amount she has achieved in 12 months, at a critical time for the club is phenomenal. She has made great strides in creating new visions and values, engaging and communicating with employees, improving systems, implementing and maintaining processes and policies, and creating a function that is valued, respected and critical to the club.”

Jem Green – Hampshire

“Jem has a multitude of roles, including umpiring her local teams. She also works for Cricviz as a broadcast analyst. She went to the Women's World Cup in South Africa in this capacity and provided info for the TV commentators there. She also does some commentary for BBC Solent and has commentated at every Rachel Heyhoe-Flint Trophy and Charlotte Edwards Cup finals day since the respective competitions started.”

Joy Walker - Yorkshire Cricket

“Since joining Yorkshire, she has progressed up the ranks to Head of Safeguarding. Joy is responsible for the strategic development of safeguarding across Yorkshire Cricket and in a short space of time she has taken a proactive and innovative approach, with the support of the impressive team of safeguarding officers she has assembled. She ensures a ‘gold standard’ method to safeguarding and the creation of a safe and fun environment to be enjoyed by everyone involved in cricket at the club.”

Kay Floyd – Lancashire Cricket Foundation

“Kay is our Community Projects Officer and makes a huge difference as she runs our women’s-only walking cricket, which is for women over 50. They have all said the sessions help with their mental health and they enjoy them. She also runs our sporting memories sessions, where people over-50 come together and talk all things sports. Attendees have said how much the group helps with their mental health and loneliness as they have formed friendships thanks to the sessions run by Kay.”

Kendal James – Yorkshire Cricket Foundation

“Kendal, the participation manager for the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, launched Cric-Kit in September 2022 in partnership with Zero Waste Leeds, who run the Together for Sport initiative. The cricket kit recycling programme – the first of its kind in the UK – aims to create awareness and a culture across Yorkshire and the UK whereby donating, recycling and reusing sports clothing is done more frequently to help break down barriers in communities to participation. There are now hubs set up in Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield.”

Meg Lay – Gloucestershire Cricket

“This is Meg’s second season at Gloucestershire Cricket and from the first day she joined our groundstaff, she has been a hugely important and influential member of staff. Extremely talented in her role, Meg has quickly become an advocate for women in her profession, notably leading a team of women-only groundstaff at the England v Australia Women’s IT20 Ashes match at Edgbaston in July. Meg is not only a highly skilled sports turf operator, but she is also a superb communicator who uses her platform to explain some of the skills of her trade to passionate cricket and sports turf enthusiasts.”

Melissa Kay – Lancashire Cricket

“Coach Mel is a pleasure to work with and inspires all those around her. Her enthusiasm in coach education motivates all involved. She has so much knowledge and ideas, it's been very beneficial to watch her and learn from her.”

Nafeesa Katib – Leicestershire and Rutland

“Nafeesa has been coaching on the Chance to Shine Street project at Oadby since it began more than five years ago. The Oadby project runs in a diverse area of Leicestershire, where there is no other cricket provision for young people. The project began as a girls-only session, but Nafeesa has always been passionate about providing opportunities for all, which has led to the session now becoming a mixed youth session. Nafeesa has sacrificed significant amounts of her own time to spread the word in the local community, attending community events and sharing posters.”

Rachel Warrenger – Cricket Wales

“Rachel, the Cricket Wales Women and Girls' Development Officer for North Wales, introduced the first ever girls’ league in the area during 2023. To go with this, our women's league has expanded to a second division. This is an amazing achievement with our area covering half of Wales geographically. This will leave a legacy for years to come for girls and women.”

Rebecca Thomas – Wales

“Rebecca worked with the Girl Guides to host an event linked to Cricket Wales and Welsh Fire. Over 350 Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Rangers and leaders attended a showcase event. On the night, the 2023 Girl Guides and Cricket Wales Challenge Pack was launched, timed so that girls could explore more about cricket by joining a local club’s All Stars Cricket or Dynamos Cricket sessions and to promote Welsh Fire's games coming up in The Hundred competition in August.”

Sheena Barnett – Essex

“Sheena found a Iove of cricket through watching her two daughters play and in 2023 started a women’s section at Buckhurst Hill Cricket Club. The club has won a Cricket Innovator award from the ECB for the way in which it has developed women and girls’ cricket. Sheena has engaged volunteers, got 30 women playing (eight of whom are now Dynamos Activators), and is about to become a foundation coach. BHCC now has its own women and girls’ committee, an Instagram account and a Facebook group for promoting women and girls’ health in sport.

Sophia Sarna - Leicestershire and Rutland

“Sophia deserves recognition because she has put so much time and effort into coaching children at Houghton and Thurnby CC over the past few years. She is making young cricketers excited to come along and train and play with their friends. She is making a huge difference in the club’s future and the children’s. The club now has a women and girls’ team in the league, which would not have been possible with Sophia’s support and coaching.”

Tharindi Attalapitiya – Herefordshire

“As a club, we launched a women's softball club at a rural club and had some early but small successes. Tharindi took on the role of the Women and Girls' Officer and has led the club forward in a genuinely effective and impressive fashion. Her dedication to the 35+ women involved is very evident in all aspects of her role, including the wonderful social life the group now has. The club has grown and gone from strength to strength, and there is a feel-good factor there that she should be immensely proud of.”