Jon Lewis: ‘You do not coach gender, you coach individuals’

When England’s all-new, singing, dancing – nicely, entertaining – Males’s Take a look at group misplaced to South Africa by an innings at Lord’s in August there have been murmurings (outdoors the camp, no less than) that maybe they’d gone too arduous with their aggressive strategy. The message from Brendon McCullum, their lately appointed head coach who had common this new mind-set and enjoying, nonetheless, was that maybe they hadn’t pushed arduous sufficient.

On the time, Jon Lewis was England’s elite males’s tempo bowling coach, and really a lot an insider as that message was mentioned within the change-room debrief, and enacted too, as England’s emphatic victories within the subsequent two Exams swung the sequence 2-1.

Lower than every week into his new position as England Ladies’s Head Coach, Lewis admits a lot of his ideas on his new group are these of an “outsider”, however he’s already sure of some issues – one being that he needs them to play an identical model of cricket to that which we witnessed from the lads’s facet over the summer season.

“My notion from outdoors was that typically the group performs just a little secure,” Lewis tells ESPNcricinfo on the ECB’s Nationwide Cricket Efficiency Centre in Loughborough, the place England Ladies’s white-ball squads are getting ready to journey to the Caribbean for 3 ODIs and 5 T20Is towards West Indies beginning on December 4.

“Typically there’s just a little warning round, particularly within the stress moments of huge video games,” Lewis provides. “I will be encouraging the group to stroll in the direction of the hazard, so to talk, and really say, ‘okay, in these moments, who’s courageous sufficient and who’s brave sufficient to take the sport on at that time?’

“It is one thing I’ve seen work extremely nicely within the males’s recreation, round England’s white-ball group, and this summer season once more within the Take a look at facet. That is a part of my teaching journey I will not ever overlook, the teachings I’ve realized from that and the way only a slight shift in mindset in the way you strategy the sport of cricket can actually change the place the stress is within the recreation.

“I took so much from this summer season and it principally compounded my studying from working across the white-ball group earlier than that. Gamers do not need to play secure, or do not need to play with concern. They need to play with freedom, they usually need to go and specific themselves. So I will be encouraging the group to play that means.

“Transferring stress in video games of cricket is such a captivating factor to do, and we’ll learn to do this, as a result of that is most likely one thing for the time being the place the group shouldn’t be fairly as assured because it could possibly be.”

To Lewis, it is an strategy that’s simply transferrable.

“You do not coach gender, you coach individuals,” he says. “My position instantly is to get to know the gamers as a lot as potential after which make the judgment name – and it is as much as me to make these judgment calls each day with every single particular person – as to how you are going to coach them.”

With the England facet present process a major injection of youth below Lewis’ predecessor, Lisa Keightley, he would possibly simply have the right mix of personnel to embrace such a mode of play. The likes of Alice Capsey, Freya Kemp, Issy Wong and Lauren Bell seized their alternatives over the English summer season with the fearlessness that their ages – starting from 17 to 21 – appear to command. And Lewis sees no purpose to rein that in.

“You have to allow them to fly,” he says. “It is a large a part of why I took this job on, you may see the massive quantity of expertise inside the group, it is unimaginable to see the ability stage. The motion, the urge for food, the power and the stability between the youthful gamers will push the senior gamers on, with the power that they create.”

Lewis hopes that that very same youthful exuberance can encourage the followers too.

Impressed himself by a quote from Wayne Smith, the seasoned rugby coach whose New Zealand Ladies’s group defeated England within the World Cup remaining earlier this month: “I by no means thought in 100 years that I would be standing out in the course of Eden Park with 40,000 individuals chanting ‘Black Ferns’,” Lewis hopes his group can construct an identical following.

“The concept I’ve obtained longer-term for the group is that I need them to fill stadiums,” Lewis says. “Can we, as a person group, get individuals to return and watch us as a result of they’re actually entertained they usually actually just like the ability that they see? That is what’s occurring in different sports activities. I am unsure we’re fairly there but in cricket, however that is the place I need to get to.

“I do not assume that is going to occur in a single day, but it surely would possibly do due to the expansion we see is occurring and how briskly issues are shifting. That is the thrilling bit concerning the job.”

Some 15,000 tickets have already offered for subsequent yr’s first Ashes T20I on the 25,000-seat Edgbaston. The match follows a Take a look at at Lord’s as a part of the multi-format sequence, with additional T20Is to be performed at The Kia Oval and Lord’s and three ODIs in Bristol, Southampton and Taunton.

Extra urgent, nonetheless, is attending to know the group nicely sufficient within the area of 10 T20Is to problem defending champions Australia on the World Cup in South Africa in February. As reported by ESPNcricinfo, England plan to play New Zealand in a three-match pre-tournament sequence upon arriving in South Africa, adopted by two ICC warm-ups.

A bunch of 19 England gamers will fly to Antigua on Tuesday, comprising an ODI squad for 3 matches towards West Indies earlier than the T20 squad tackle the identical opposition in 5 video games – one in Antigua adopted by 4 in Barbados. These T20s type an essential a part of World Cup preparations and can go away Lewis with lots to consider.

“We have to work out what our greatest XI is,” Lewis says. “Over the course of these 10 video games, what’s our greatest XI? [We need to] be actually clear about what every particular person has to do inside that finest XI so once we step on the sector for the primary recreation within the World Cup, we all know just about the place we’re at.

“That will change due to clearly accidents, however figuring out that is our greatest XI, that is how we’ll play, let’s go on to try to win a World Cup.”

England performed loads of T20Is throughout their dwelling worldwide season, with the Commonwealth Video games showcasing the format in between a full multi-format sequence towards South Africa and India’s white-ball tour in September. However Heather Knight, their skilled captain, injured her hip in the course of the first T20I towards South Africa and has solely simply returned to full health after present process surgical procedure. Nat Sciver led the group in Knight’s absence earlier than taking day out to take care of her psychological well being, and with Katherine Brunt additionally lacking the back-end of the summer season, Amy Jones took over as captain for 3 ODIs and three T20Is towards India.

And whereas the absence of so many senior gamers created a management vacuum at key moments of the summer season, most notably a disappointing Commonwealth Video games marketing campaign, Lewis additionally believes {that a} new dynamic has been created by the newer faces on the scene.

“The senior gamers will come again into the facet they usually’ll carry them some good stability and a few wonderful ability stage, however they will be across the group pondering, ‘oh, crikey, this has modified just a little bit, these gamers are high-energy they usually’re excited they usually’re bubbly they usually’re having the time of their lives’,” he says. “That is precisely how I need the entire group to play, like they’re having the time of their lives.”

Sciver has opted to not resume her vice-captaincy position for now whereas she concentrates on returning first as a participant in the course of the Caribbean tour, with a substitute as Knight’s deputy for that journey but to be introduced.

And so Lewis has begun discussions with Knight about forming a broader management group, and is eager to incorporate among the youthful members of the squad. Sophie Ecclestone, the vastly skilled left-arm spinner who remains to be solely 23, deputised for Jones and could be a candidate for that group, whereas wicketkeeper Jones admitted on the time that captaincy wasn’t a job she coveted long-term.

Sciver’s absence additionally shone gentle on a difficulty that threatens to turn out to be extra prevalent within the girls’s recreation, as franchise alternatives skyrocket with the addition of the Ladies’s IPL and PSL.

As gamers develop more and more keen to confess after they want a break, Knight lately raised the necessity to handle workloads to keep away from attending to that time, and Lewis is acutely conscious that that might be a part of his job.

“The boys’s recreation is getting a lot, a lot better at committing to one thing after which pulling it out,” Lewis says. “These conversations, my experiences of watching that play out amongst a whole lot of gamers – particularly the fast-bowling group – over the past two, three, 4 years now, I believe will assist.”

The comparatively short-term nature of a cricket profession and a participant’s incomes capability inside that timeframe are points that are compounded for girls, who typically do not make as a lot cash as the lads and whose alternatives to play, whereas rising, are fewer.

Wong, who is just 20, lately pulled out of a deliberate WBBL stint with Hobart Hurricanes, and Lewis can see that occuring extra within the girls’s recreation in future, though he acknowledges that they face added issues to their male counterparts, by way of what they’re giving up when opting out of franchise tournaments.

“I do not understand how it is going to play out and a few gamers will get actually drained,” he says. “My job is to make it possible for once we come to the massive moments, and each time we’re enjoying for England once we come to the massive moments – the World Cups, the Ashes sequence – that we have got our greatest groups out there to play on a regular basis.

“However what can be thrilling concerning the group of gamers that we’ve now could be there’s rather more depth, in order that does create area to carry gamers out and in just a little bit extra and be a bit extra inventive with choice. A part of my job might be to encourage our teaching group to develop that depth even additional.

“It is a actually difficult stability to create. Nonetheless, I undoubtedly assume it is potential, particularly due to what’s outdoors of our greatest enjoying XI for the time being.”

Within the new yr, Lewis plans to enterprise to the areas to completely discover the expertise on provide there, with a view to increasing the pool of England gamers.

He would not have needed to look too far final season to see the exploits of Lauren Winfield-Hill, the 32-year-old opening batter who was dropped halfway by way of the 50-over World Cup in March and misplaced her ECB central contract for the approaching yr.

Winfield-Hill has compelled her means again into the T20I squad for the primary time since early 2020 with some spectacular performances for two-time Hundred champions Oval Invincibles, after kicking off Northern Diamonds’ Charlotte Edwards Cup marketing campaign with a 51-ball 96. She additionally topped the averages within the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, together with a player-of-the-match efficiency as Diamonds received the ultimate in a thriller.

And whereas Lewis wasn’t concerned in choice for the Caribbean tour, Winfield-Hill’s return sends a message not solely to any kids hoping to attain larger honours, however to those that might need thought their time has handed.

“The door is not closed to anybody,” Lewis says. “When you put in performances like Lauren has over the previous yr and confirmed her urge for food for run scoring and, extra importantly I believe, the way in which she’s gone about scoring her runs, that is a message that I want to get out to all of the gamers on the market: I am actually open to anybody coming into this squad… When you work arduous sufficient and also you carry out nicely sufficient the door is at all times open.”

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