Tash Farrant is back to deal with “unfinished business” on England’s tour of New Zealand, after being handed a lifeline in the professional game.
The left-arm seamer made her international debut as a 17-year-old and made 14 appearances in five years before being released from the set-up by then coach Mark Robinson in 2019.
She proceeded to get a job as head of girls’ cricket at Trent College in Nottingham and, in years gone by, might easily have drifted away from the top level entirely.
But when the England and Wales Cricket Board decided to offer new professional deals to 41 regional players last year, Farrant was one of those to make the cut.
Back in full-time cricket, she caught the eye for South West Stars in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy and won a recall to the England squad for their series against the White Ferns.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s first one-day international, the 24-year-old said: “Initially when I lost my contract it was very hard to get back into the team.
“There wasn’t really much to fall back on, so it did feel sort of a bit like it was the end of the world at the time. I won’t lie, I was very disappointed.
“But I think I knew within myself, deep down, even if I didn’t want to tell myself it, that I had some unfinished business in an England shirt. When I got over the initial disappointment of losing my contract I started to work on my game as an individual, with specific one-to-one coaches, and when the new regional contracts came in that was a new lease of life for me.
“I knew I wanted to work really hard to get back into the mix, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be this soon. I’m just really grateful to get the opportunity again because I didn’t think it was going to come at one stage.”
While Farrant is the first of the newly professionalised players on the domestic circuit to recapture the attention of England head coach Lisa Keightley, there are plenty of others hoping she might not be the last.
“When it was announced, I got some really lovely messages from people like Alex Hartley, Beth Langston and Hollie Armitage,” she said.
“I think it gave people a bit of hope. Even if they have been in the setup and they’re now out of it, they know if they’re performing well in the Heyhoe Flint Trophy and The Hundred, they’ll be putting their name in the hat.”
Farrant will be angling to fill the gap left by the injuries to Anya Shrubsole and Katie George and feels she will be better equipped for her second shot at the big stage than she was as a teenager.
“At 17, I didn’t really realise how amazing it was,” she said.
“I can’t even compare myself to before. I feel like a different person, being out of the game, and I feel like my cricket is in a completely different place. I do feel a more rounded person and much more relaxed at where I am. I know I’ve come a long way but still have a long way to go.”