Following the announcement of the England squad to travel to South Africa next month, CRICKETher editor Raf Nicholson caught up with new Head Coach Mark Robinson.
TB or not TB? That was the question facing Mark Robinson when he came to select his squad for the tour to South Africa – Tammy Beaumont… or not Tammy Beaumont.
Robinson confides it wasn’t an easy choice, partly because he hasn’t had the opportunity to work with the stars currently playing WBBL in Australia; but after seeing Beaumont on the recent Sri Lanka training camp and talking it through with his captain, his mind was made up:
“Tammy impressed me with how she can hit the ball and how potentially destructive she can be – it’s the style of cricket we want to play.”
“What made it quite hard was there were quite a lot of players I hadn’t seen yet… but having spoken to Charlotte Edwards who plays with her at Kent, I know she’s very talented… somebody that you would want in your team.”
The inclusion of Beaumont means Middlesex’s Fran Wilson misses the cut, just weeks after being first awarded a central contract; and Robinson admits that even though England play 3 crucial 50-over games in South Africa, this decision was partly driven with an eye on the World T20 in March:
“We’ve got a Twenty20 competition coming up, and Fran’s possibly better suited at 50-over cricket than she is at Twenty20. With back-to-back tours there’s less time to swap players in and out than what we might like.”
“I just spoke to Fran this morning, and obviously she’s disappointed… but we’ve got 4 tours this year and the new Super League, so there’s lots of opportunity for her to play cricket and make a claim for her place.”
Another to be omitted was Kent’s Laura Marsh, who Robinson acknowledges was unlucky:
“Somebody was going to have to miss out. Dani Hazell is the number 1 Twenty20 spinner in the world… and you’ve got Heather Knight now bowling quite effective off-spin as well, which gives you an option. So Laura was unlucky… but it was a very, very close call.”
The only other contracted player not travelling to South Africa is Tash Farrant, who hasn’t played for England since the contracts were first announced, but who is clearly desperate to turn that around:
“She was aggrieved that she wasn’t in. And that’s what you want – you want people to be disappointed to be left out, because they’ll put in performances, and that’s how we’ll get better, by having competition for spots… But I was very impressed with her in Sri Lanka – she knocked over a lot of batsmen!”
Finally, asked what his ambitions were for the tour, Robinson was introspective:
“We want to make sure we come together as a group and a unit, and unite, and bond, and play the type of cricket that we like to play. That’ll give us the best chance of winning those ODIs, then moving onto the Twenty20s, as part of our preparation for the World Cup.”