OPINION: Robinson Risks It All On England Reboot

If you had asked me just two weeks ago whether I’d now be writing this story, I’d have said you were mad; and the table below shows exactly why:

Past 12 Months (ODI + T20) Runs Average
Edwards 486 30
Taylor 427 28
Knight 338 28
Greenway 192 27
Beaumont 164 23
Sciver 219 22
Winfield 31 5

In the past 12 months, which has included an Ashes and a T20 World Cup, Charlotte Edwards scored more ODI + T20 runs for England, at a higher average, than anyone else. Hence my instinct that she would remain a part of the team (and indeed would continue as captain) because her runs were just too important to let go.

Of course, this isn’t to deny that there were problems. I’m actually not convinced by the argument that the team “as a collective” was unfit, though certain players have perhaps arguably over-fixated on strength rather than conditioning recently. But it was undeniable that England had lost their edge; and Mark Robinson saw this too – concluding that, like a superhero movie franchise that had fallen flat under an ageing lead, what England needed was a “reboot”.

Robinson, however, clearly then faced a dilemma – he wanted to “reboot” the team under new leadership; but he realised that Edwards’ towering presence in the dressing room meant that it would have been very tough for any successor to step out of her shadow had she continued as a player.

So the coach did what he is, after all, paid the big bucks to do – he made the call of his life, and signed the skipper’s execution papers, wagering that what it cost him in gravitas and experience, he’d get back in vigour and renewed vision.

It is a huge gamble.

The World Cup is right around the corner – not just “any” World Cup, but one hosted at home in England – and England have sacked their iconic captain and most reliable player.

Robinson now has just 12 months to build a new team around a new captain.

If he succeeds… if Heather Knight (or Sarah Taylor… or even Sophie Luff?) lifts that trophy at Lords next July… it will be a triumph unmatched in the history of the women’s game.

But if he fails, there can be no hiding place – we all know where the buck stops now.

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26 thoughts on “OPINION: Robinson Risks It All On England Reboot

  1. He is indeed paid the big bucks. Does anyone know how much Robinson is paid compared to the wage Edwards received at the end?

    “but he realised that Edwards’ towering presence in the dressing room meant that it would have been very tough for any successor to step out of her shadow had she continued as a player.”

    I completely disagree. I think it’s all about the coach himself and that he’s afraid of not being able to step out of her shadow. It was quite clear watching joint pressers from the WT20 that there was considerable distance between them. It contrasted so greatly with the way the men’s team looked when Farbrace came in as acting head coach before Bayliss started up.

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  2. Did Robinson come into the job without realising what he was picking up ? I think he was seriously shocked by what he found.

    It’s not exactly impossible that Robinson and Edwards simply never ‘hit it off’ and have very different views on what has gone wrong and how to resolve it. If this were true it might explain Lottie’s ‘retirement’.

    Spot on Syd observing that this is Robinson’s big gamble – after all I would imagine it is a unique situation to get rid of your best player. It means Robinson either (a) truly believes England can perform better as a team without Lottie or (b) they just fell out and used (a) as a smoke screen.

    I’m not sure he’ll be living or dying based on the 2017 World Cup. This revolution will take time and I’d wager he’s really got a 5 year plan with world cup and Ashes victories post 2017 being the target.

    I’ll be eagerly watching this site for rumours of who is next out the door !

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    • For the England ladies, they’ve got something new: a coach with a major CV to him. With all respect to the like Dobson and Lane, they didn’t enter the job with Lions experience or County Championships to their name and have never been linked with the England men’s role. Robinson is not the type of guy who will settle for this being the peak of his coaching career. Failing here will reflect very badly on him and could be an impediment to future jobs at a higher level. One could understand him wanting to take a tight grip on the team and to remove anything that might impede the development of that team in his view.

      If that is his view then it’s a first hurdle fall. Removing her as captain was the right decision but to dump a batsman of her quality and current performance level when the rest of them have been average to poor over the last year is astounding.

      It’s the interview held after the semi-final defeat to Australia that really demonstrates that distance. Robinson tore the team apart after that defeat in a style that I’d describe as “polite abuse”. In that interview, he said England needed more warriors like the captain. Now he’s chucked her out. That interview was March 30th. I don’t think he had some radical change of heart in the seven weeks to the present day. He simply wanted her out.

      From George Dobell’s article on Cricinfo:

      “Robinson, the coach for six months now, noted that nothing seemed to grow in her shade. While that is no reflection of Edwards, he knew he had to act and made what Connor, the head of women’s cricket at the ECB, called “a ballsy decision”.

      Part of the rationale behind the WSL is that it will help young players to develop by playing alongside some of the best players from England and around the world. Yet apparently at England level Robinson believes that playing alongside one of our few world class cricketers impedes the development of young players and we will only improve by dumping her. If this is the case and England selected players can’t cope playing alongside her, what chance will younger even less experienced players have at club level alongside her?

      It’s a completely laughable position to take.

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      • I wouldn’t say it’s laughable really. There are reasons to think the supposed effect would happen at England level and the same thing wouldn’t happen in WSL; and it does take a bit of looking at the stats to be reasonably sure that Robinson’s theory is bogus. It’s more of a semi-plausible smokescreen for him to put his own mark on the side, but he’s taking a huge risk.

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  3. MR has accelerated Lottie’s retirement process but in doing so he may have pushed back his starting point and will have to rebuild trust.

    Playing Lottie in the Summer ODIs and then dropping her from T20s may have given him a chance to assess life with her as a player only. There are other players who are still in greater danger of being dropped than her and how many debutants does one team need.

    What still worries me is that we’re relying on players from a flawed development plan and a domestic structure that has been found wanting.

    The WSL is not THE answer, yet the ECB have dismissed their biggest asset who will no doubt be the star of the show and could’ve helped them build for the future.

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    • If Robinson feels that young players were intimidated playing in her shadow, then I wonder how those players are thinking now they’ve seen someone so high in the run scoring charts in a world tournament getting dumped for good seven weeks later.

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  4. Not sure where you got your figures from Syd,but if you look at David Tossells Book The Girls of Summer Greenway scored the most runs 192 and came top of the averages with an average of 32.

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    • That was just for the Ashes – above is all ODIs + T20s in past 12 months – i.e. includes SA tour + WWT20.

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  5. Not sure where you got your figures from Syd,but David Tossells book The Girls of Summer shows Greenway scored the most runs 192 and came top of the England batting in The Ashes series with an average of 32

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  6. “We’ve seen huge growth in girls playing the game. The number of clubs is up by 600% over the past 10 years so the numbers are looking healthy.”
    Maybe so for girls but it’s the women’s leagues which will provide the players for England and that (at least here) is dying with a 60% fall in the number of clubs playing competitive league cricket in the last two seasons. My daughter’s club, which is one of the few left, have yet to play due to opponents being unable to raise a team.
    1.3 million boxes ticked (which is all that counts for the ECB) but how many have continued on playing? In our local girls league it seems most games are conceded due to lack of players. Some age categories didn’t have enough teams to even have a league.
    Is it just around here that the women’s game is dying at the roots?
    Am I being over pessimistic in my fear that KSL/Counry is going to kill the women’s clubs?

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    • I come from a state school background. I currently live in Bristol and am well acquainted with the leagues around here as both player and spectator. In some of the posher areas, cricket is fine. Clubs with a strong public school or county link are doing well. Outside of that, it’s a real struggle. I don’t base that on some inherent bias within me, I base that on the people I know who volunteer as coaches, run youth sections, who play all weekend etc. The male game is shrinking and this threatens the female game as well.

      My fear is that everything is moving away from the working class world and cricket’s future is being set up depending on the public school world to save it. Everyone knows what a big factor Brighton College is in the world of women’s cricket. One wonders how the ECB model for women’s success involves those outside of the public school system. It almost feels a bit Sussex mafia in that we have the best female cricketer ever for England, a state school educated individual, being unceremoniously dumped by a head of cricket who went to Brighton College at the request of a new coach whose daughter goes to an expensive fee paying school.

      Simply brings me to think of that Cricketer guide to the best cricketing schools in the country…

      http://www.bedes.org/senior-school/news-and-blogs/senior-school-news/2015/11/cricketer-top-100.aspx

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    • Hi Simon, not disputing this figure about the 60% fall but just wondering where it came from? Thanks.

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    • Other interests and, I think, there being nowhere to actually play. Plus most men’s teams play about 19 games per season, the women (the few that play at all) maybe 8-10 if they are lucky

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  7. Girls playing cricket equates in most cases to school sessions and few the go looking for a club due to education pressures.

    All the clubs have girls few have enough to run a regular ‘age group side’. Few Premier league sides now running a 2XI.

    Best girls taken into county performance squads, miss out on Club cricket. Most County girls runs up to U17s not U19s – and huge drop out rate.

    Predominantly run by volunteers, drop out rate means lack of female team coaches (now a requirement for girls sections).

    If the ECB put as much effort into the current structure as they have into WSL we may have a chance. Years of neglect – Lottie and her teams success was seen as enough of a motivation for girls – now that is NOT the case. Look at Hockey & football they’ve overtaken Cricket.

    PS despite all this my eldest daughter still plays men’s and women’s cricket and I want my youngest age 9 to have a better experience.

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    • Wokingham Ridgeway partly “credit” their relegation from the Premier League last season to trying to run 2 XIs – the 1st XI took the field with 8 players on a couple of occasions – would have had 11 if not trying to run a 2nd XI as well.

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      • Another related problem is that, when you only have a Premiership XI, where do the lesser/upcoming players play?
        Several times I have seen clubs bring in County players to help their push for promotion but then the others, who have often been the mainstay of the club until now, get pushed out and give up because there is no 2nd XI for them to go to.
        Some years ago I suggested clubs could work together and have a type of loan where players could go to another team appropriate to their level/ability but this got a very frosty reception from the then County Development Officer.

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    • Because the ECB went for a top down approach. Everything was put into the top level: better funding, more TV, pro contracts, sponsored cars, now the WSL. They built a fancy roof with sun deck and forgot the rest of the house.

      Personally I think the only way cricket will survive in some areas is if women and men play in mixed gender competitions. I’ve had this debate with several people at all levels of cricket and generally the chaps I know from the classic MCC/public school background scoff and some of us working class filthbags nod.

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      • I agree, more and more women seem to be turning their backs on the women’s game.
        My daughter still plays both (and has just got her level 2 coach badge) but the women’s side is getting more and more difficult with each season.
        An actual mixed league could be interesting and might even save some struggling clubs.

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  8. There is nothing to stop girls playing in boys cricket in our leagues they can even play a year longer in each age group.

    There are quite a few girls / women playing men’s cricket but this is a personal choice.

    Yes PL sides do their utmost to attract county academy players (and overseas) but when they’re on ECB or county duty. They find they’re stalwarts are not available as fillers or their 2XI has gone to the wall.

    The county budget means if you’re not deemed good enough as an U17 then you will never make the county women’s standard.

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  9. A certain aspiring all rounder from Yorkshire might observe that with 162 runs at an average of 23.14, she should have been included in that list (aka Nunny).
    Even Elwiss, with only 116 runs but an average of 23.2 is ahead of Nunny (23.14) and only just behind Beaumont (23.42), might have hoped to make it too.
    Not that any of this undermines the point that Edwards was No 1.

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