Bears and England bowler Issy Wong believes the expansion of women’s professional cricket will inspire more girls to follow in her footsteps.

Wong – who’s played 14 times for England – has been a mainstay of the regional Central Sparks side since its inception in 2020.

She’s excited at the prospect of playing for a fully professional Bears Women side following news that one of eight Tier 1 clubs in a new-look national structure will be based at Edgbaston from next season.

The 21-year-old said the potential for women’s cricket and the opportunities for players is limitless.

“The potential for women’s cricket is through the roof,” said Wong, who’s taken 126 wickets across Women’s T20 and List A.

“I’m super excited to see where it could go. The amount of talent in the region is special and to have that being nurtured and supported, with a clear pathway to professional and international cricket, the future is very bright.

“It’s certainly a great time to be a youngster coming into cricket. Girls can see their next steps, something clear to aim for. They will come to Edgbaston and watch Eve Jones bat think if I work hard, do the right things, that could be me in five years’ time.

“That’s a fantastic position to be in. Young girls will be inspired to pursue their dreams.

“For me growing up, that wasn’t possible: you had to play for England to be a professional cricketer, and to be in the best 15 players in the country is tough.

“But now with next season’s expansion of the professional game, it’s more attainable and more girls will think ‘I can be a professional if I work hard’. Competition will go up and the standard will go through the roof.”

Wong, who lives in Birmingham, has progressed through the Bears Youth Pathway and Academy since the age of nine.

Wearing the Bear and Ragged Staff is nothing new for her – but she says wearing it next year as part of a new professional Bears Women would be extra special.

“I’ve always been a proud Bear,” she added. “I remember playing my first under-11s game, I think I was nine years old. Derbyshire away. I dropped a catch at square leg and think I got a golden duck!

“But it was a very proud moment nonetheless, walking out in my new Warwickshire jumper and I’m sure next year will be no different, I’ll still feel that same pride.

“It’s a fantastic club and they’ve looked after me over the years. There’s a real core of us that have gone through the age groups here and to call Edgbaston my true home will be amazing.”

Over 13,000 sold for Women’s IT20 vs Pakistan

Pakistan Women will be in Birmingham on Saturday 11 May 2024 and over 13,000 tickets have already been sold.

With the Men’s IT20 already sold out, this is your last chance to see Pakistan at Edgbaston next summer and tickets are available from only £17, with under 16s £5.