SOMERSET Women's captain Sophie Luff is one of 25 female cricketers to be awarded retainer contracts, running from June 1 through to September 30, 2020.

Luff, 26, hails from Lympsham, works as a coach for the Somerset Cricket Board, and has helped Western Storm secure two Kia Super League titles.

That success helped earn her a contract with the Welsh Fire women's team for The Hundred in 2020, but the launch of that new competition has been pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Luff is one of three to have received a retainer - reported by the BBC to be worth £1,000 per month - with the South West and Wales region, alongside Danielle Gibson and Fi Morris.

The eight regional hubs (North East, North West, West Midlands, East Midlands, South West and Wales, South Central, London and South East, and London and East) are to provide year-round training and coaching support to players, in place of the current county system.

However, while there is a commitment from the England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to play domestic women's cricket in 2020, this may differ from the planned rollout of the new elite domestic structure formed of the eight regions.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison commented: “Planning for the return of the women’s domestic game remains ongoing, but our commitment to women’s domestic cricket is unwavering and we look forward to sharing further news shortly.

“Our strong preference is that the women’s new elite domestic structure starts this summer and we will work hard to ensure that happens.

“For this to be achieved, brand new infrastructure still needs to be rolled out, alongside imperatives we need in place when playing competitive cricket during a pandemic.

“Our first choice remains to do everything we can to start this year and build on the fantastic momentum in the women’s game.

“In the event that proves impossible, we will explore other options for play to enable our women’s players to enjoy competitive domestic cricket in 2020.

“We will continue to work closely with both the men’s and women’s domestic game to ensure necessary safety measures are in place to protect the wellbeing of everyone involved.”