OPINION: Robinson Talks The Right Talk

Two weeks on from the announcement that Sussex’s Mark Robinson has been appointed Head Coach of England Women, the dust is beginning to settle.

Robinson will now have met with captain Charlotte Edwards, and will be gearing up for his first encounter with the England squad at Loughborough before Christmas, as he meets the women whose development he will be responsible for over the coming months (well, most of them – some are already in Australia or will soon be heading that way, bound for the inaugural WBBL).

How will he fare? The worry with airlifting in a coach who has worked almost exclusively in the men’s game is always going to be that they fail to understand the unique needs and challenges of women’s cricket. But CRICKETher – as we tweeted at the time – were uniformly impressed with Robinson and are optimistic about the future with him at the helm.

Why? Because, for someone who openly admits that he knows very little about women’s cricket, Robinson’s intuitive sense about the game is spot on.

This was clear in the press conference a fortnight ago, at which some journalists – perhaps inevitably, given that Robinson has recently interviewed for the position – seemed to see his appointment as a mere stepping-stone to the “real job”, coach of the England men’s team. Robinson, though, was unequivocal in his response:

“The women’s game stands by itself now, it shouldn’t be compared. It has its own identity, its own stage of development, and I want to play my part in continuing the fantastic work that’s gone on before, the momentum.”

CRICKETher’s mission statement, from the lips of the man of the moment himself!

And Robinson’s commitment to all levels of the game is also very evident. On the day of his appointment he told CRICKETher: “Instinctively I want to help as much as I can where I can…We’ve got to make sure that [the hundreds of coaches round the country] feel joined up to the top as well. I’ve got to do my bit to make sure that the women’s game keeps moving in the right direction.”

He had already spent time working with Sussex girls alongside coach Charlotte Burton – whose commitment to the game he praised effusively in his first press conference – and will no doubt be looking to her for some advice about his new role.

While much of the critique of the ECB from those involved in the women’s game has come from those at grassroots level, it seems they can be reassured by Robinson’s attitude. CRICKETher certainly is.

If Robinson has not yet had to walk the walk –  that will have to wait until England’s arrival in South Africa in February, and beyond that the World Twenty20 in India – he certainly talks the right talk…and that is a pretty good start!