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there were tears

Before I began the role, I sought out a few opinions about what the differences might be between working with male or female cricketers and the overwhelming sentiment that came back was that it’s not much different.


The one thing I have noticed, however – and I often half-joke about this – is that, if you’re talking to a room full of female athletes and you say something you think is quite a generic statement, every female in the room will think you’re talking directly to them. If you do the same thing in a male dressing room, the player will nod and agree – and think the coach is talking about the idiot beside him!


It’s definitely a generalisation, but at some of our early team meetings, we didn’t get a lot out of the players. We’ve worked hard to create a real player-led environment and we’re fortunate at the moment to have two outstanding leaders in Rach Haynes and Meg Lanning, who’ve really driven that culture in the last 12 to 18 months.



The way coaching’s evolved, a co-operative approach is really the only way to go. There’s no place in Australian sport anymore for a dictator to stand up and say, ‘This is how it’s going to be done’. You’ve got to earn respect and understand what motivates the players and then get a partnership going to get to positive outcomes together.


I think we’ve been able to achieve in the women’s national team. The output in meetings is now a lot more honest and upfront and we get to the facts a lot quicker and get some good outcomes.


Never was that more plain to see than in our debrief a couple of months after we lost to India in the semi-final of the 2017 World Cup.


We’d seen the cracks for a while, as coaches. We were playing good cricket but were vulnerable when teams took it up to us. We were quite conservative in our approach and relied too much on our skillset rather than getting into the contest.


In that loss, Harmanpreet Kaur scored a big century. At our de-brief, as we prepared for 2017 Ashes, we watched that innings in a dark room, with the coaches and our sports psych Peter Clarke standing back, and we asked the players to talk about it afterwards. We ended up with some really good feedback, which helped us formulate a new approach.



It wasn’t easy. There were tears, there were people talking about the guilt they felt, but we worked through it, closed the loop on it and from that point looked to the future. It opened wounds, it was a high-risk strategy but it set us right.


It was a big moment. I don’t think we’d be the team we are now without having gone through that. It was the birth of our new ‘fearless’ approach, which has been the bedrock of how we now approach the game on and off the field.



An incredible game 

I can’t wait to begin this Ashes series against England with the first one-dayer next Tuesday at Leicester.


The first time I was with the team was in 2015 and we won well over there in England. But the last time, though we retained the Ashes, but we didn’t really win them. We’d retained them with two games to go but didn’t play great cricket towards the end. We let England take a bit out of it. That’s a huge motivation for us this time around.


It means that, going into this series, it’s almost a case of unfinished business. We definitely want to go out and win this Ashes, playing with intensity right to the last ball. It’s a great series to have right now, everyone’s fresh and it doesn’t get any bigger. The World Cup and Ashes are up on the same level for us.


I feel incredibly grateful for what the game’s done for me. I think of myself as a bit of a battler, a bit of a journeyman but I’ve managed to stay heavily involved in cricket for so long.


It’s given me lifelong friends. You go interstate or overseas and catch up with people you might not have seen for years, but it’s like you saw them yesterday.


I just spent a couple of days up in Cairns with Jimmy Maher and Andrew Symonds, who I haven’t seen much of for 15 years or so, and it was like nothing was different. The same jokes, we’re still putting it on each other like we used to. It’s an incredible game in that way.


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