In a move that we’ll admit perhaps surprised CRICKETher more than it should have done, Clare Connor reached for the shotgun yesterday; and with it despatched England “Performance Director” and Chief Selector Paul Shaw back to the obscurity from which he came.
CRICKETher has had little real interaction with Shaw over the years, but the customary nod and a smile with which he always greeted us around the circuit bear witness to something which we’ve heard time and again: he was (is!) a thoroughly bloody nice bloke.
But we can not allow this to distract ourselves from the fact that under his leadership, the England team have gone backwards – falling into the pack while the Australians hurtle ahead.
The twin Ashes triumphs of 2013/14 were the highlights of his reign; but even as giant strides towards professionalism were being made off the field, victories on the pitch merely papered over cracks that were in retrospect already all too apparent by the 2013 World Cup in India – brittle batting; over-reliance on the Brunt/ Shrubsole bowling axis; and a chaotic selection process on the fringes of the team that quite literally drove players away from the game.
The current England squad is very-much of Shaw’s making, bearing in mind that his previous role was heading-up the Academy. There’s a lot of potential, but there are too many players that England struggle to get the best out of – the Danni Wyatts… the Amy Joneses… even the Heather Knights and the Sarah Taylors.
That’s the challenge for the new coach, whoever he (or, sadly less likely, she) is – they will come into the role knowing they have some serious talent at their disposal, but they will nevertheless have their work cut out to turn things around in time for the World Cup, which in sporting terms really is just around the corner in 2017.
The 2016 talent pool has already been decided for the new incumbent and the senior players will have 12 month contracts in place, unless Clare Conner and the ECB play hardball in this area too.
Also I do not think the current squad is entirely of Paul Shaw’s making. Head Coach of the England women will attract suitors but will they have the authority and dressing room power necessary to turn things around?