OPINION: Operation Wyatt – Mark Robinson’s Biggest Challenge Yet

When Mark Robinson was appointed England coach, pretty-much exactly one year ago, Tammy Beaumont’s international career was in the doldrums. With 58 caps, and a (combined formats) batting average of just 12, the Kent opener freely admits that she had started contemplating what to do when she inevitably lost her England contract.

With the press (including us) calling for Beaumont’s head, one man still believed in her… and that man was Mark Robinson, who assured us that what he’d seen in the nets at Loughborough could be translated into success on the international field.

And how right he was. In the Robinson era, Beaumont has scored 917 runs in 23 matches, at an average of 44 – in ODIs she averages over 55 – only Suzie Bates and Amy Satterthwaite have scored more international runs in this calendar year. (Though Meg Lanning could insert herself into that list v South Africa in the next few days.) In simple terms, TB’s career hasn’t so much done a u-turn as a triple-back-flip-with-double-pike-and-a-cherry-on-top!

Another player in a similar boat to Beaumont this time last year was Danielle Wyatt – 92 caps and a batting average of 14. But here the stories diverge somewhat – Wyatt has played 26 internationals under Robinson (2 more than TB, though they have batted the same number of innings) and averages a miserable 12.

There are some extenuating circumstances for Wyatt – she has largely come in down the order, towards the end of the innings, facing pressure to score quick runs – and a Strike Rate of 92 isn’t terrible.

But on the recent tour to Sri Lanka this hasn’t been the case – she has had 3 golden opportunities, coming in with plenty of time and probably the least tension you could ever hope for in international cricket – facing a low-ranked side in an empty stadium.

And she made scores of 4, 4 and 0.

What is so puzzling is that Wyatt has all the talent – she is probably the most naturally gifted athlete in the current England squad – others have sweated blood to get where they are, but for Wyatt it all just came naturally. She has always been a brilliant fielder – always been able to score runs for fun in county cricket – because somehow, she understands the ball, and the ball understands her.

She isn’t all just “bish, bash, bosh” either – only a few weeks ago, we watched her score a masterfully patient hundred for Sussex on the County Ground at Hove.

There was even a hint recently in the West Indies, in the 1st ODI there, that she might finally be turning things around internationally, with a career high England knock of 44; but in 7 innings since, she has averaged just 6.

For all the problems though, it is clear that as with Tammy Beaumont, Mark Robinson still believes in Danni Wyatt – he has persisted with her, and despite Emma Lamb waiting in the wings, he gave her another chance in the final ODI in Sri Lanka.

Robinson is not a man who likes to be be beaten, and he will take it personally if he can’t turn Wyatt around. He’s done it before with Beaumont – he can do it again with Wyatt… but it may be his biggest challenge yet!

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13 thoughts on “OPINION: Operation Wyatt – Mark Robinson’s Biggest Challenge Yet

  1. How many games do you give someone who had a lengthy spell in the side. Understand that players go through bad spells,but you need to show that they can come to the party and deliver every now and then.intersting fact over a 100 caps for England and no 50 scored. And to take things into consideration Sri Lanka are not that good,so the 3 chances that she’s had,wasn’t taken.
    When players are out of form then the coach should be fair to any other player within the system ie Academy players get their chance to prove themselves. If England are you be the best,then there other Academy players need to get a chance or else what Is the point of the Academy, if they are going to stick with the same old!. Let’s face it giving younger players a chance against Sri Lanka would of been an ideal opportunity to blood one or two.

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  2. Of course, the “operation” needn’t even be a thing, if the management decide to move on, thinking she’s been given her chance.

    Since we’ve had 2 negative responses so far though, I’ll offer a different perspective. I’m not sure we can hang too much on comparing Beaumont’s situation with Wyatt’s. Reserve Wicket-keeping aside, Beaumont was wholly reliant on her batting to get her back into the side. There’s one elephant in the room missing from this analysis: Danni Wyatt’s bowling.

    Wyatt has devoted a significant part of her development to her bowling; and rather than it be a problem of low confidence, and something to be hidden away, the only way, for me, that Operation Wyatt could ever succeed is for the bowling to be part of the solution.

    To claim that she’s reliant on her batting to keep her place in the side just goes to show how the way England have used her since 2013 has been limiting, for her and possibly for England. The problems with her batting seem to have started in 2013 which corresponds with the time she stopped regularly bowling for England. This is why I’m not so convinced the England coaches are trying everything they could do to make this work. I do feel that Wyatt is a player who’s been let down by England in this regard.

    I believe that all-rounders need to be able to perform all parts of their game to thrive. They need to always feel they’re in the game. It’s only when batting, bowling and fielding are all in sync that they play most effectively. They tend to rely on aspects of their game working in synergy to instil confidence. How can they contribute fully when only being able to bring to bear part of their repertoire? Wyatt’s no different.

    The stats suggest this might be the case. In WBBL01 for instance, Wyatt bowled all 4 of her allotted overs in 8 matches, and only didn’t bowl at all in 1 game, which I think was due to injury. The matches where she took her best bowling figures seem to correlate with those in which she scored most runs: 4-13 and 28*(21), 3-20 and 48(37), 1-26 and 54(47). Her top score when she took no wickets was 26. She scored 180 runs @ 30 when she bowled all 4 overs and took at least 1 wicket. When this was not the case she only scored 69 runs @ 14. In the Kia Super League, Wyatt only bowled 5 overs (as 4th change), hardly an endorsement, and had a disappointing series with the bat to boot. I reiterate that the fewer bowling opportunities are given, the less confidence can be gained.

    Even in the 2nd ODI against Sri Lanka, earlier this week, Wyatt bowled 3.5 overs, presumably as an “emergency” 6th change after Brunt was injured, but ended up taking 1-13 . It was no surprise, though, given England’s strange disinclination that she played no further part with the ball in the series, despite this effort. The quality of the wickets taken is irrelevant to the argument, as long as her confidence is raised from the taking.

    Bowling Wyatt more is not without its hurdles. England already have a surfeit of offies, what with Knight now captain and Marsh and Hazell so often impressing, not only with the ball but also with the bat recently. Going forward it could be that Wyatt can only get into the side in the event of an injury or two. And Wyatt is only 25, she’s not an old player – she’s younger than Marsh or Hazell. One other thing she does have going for her is that Jones and Wilson have not (in my opinion) done quite as well as expected with the bat, so there is some uncertainty in the middle order still. With both Beaumont and Winfield able to bat long, and keep wicket, England could instead play both Lamb and Wyatt in an ODI middle order. What part she will actually play in Robinson’s plans, we will only find out with ongoing selection and contract renewal.

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    • I recall a question from my GCSE English Literature exam back in the 90’s that had me stumped.

      It was;
      “Explain, with the use of pertinent and relevant examples, Queen Gertrude’s declaration in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Act 3, scene 2, that “the lady doth protest too much, me thinks”
      If only I had had the benefit of reading James series of pro-Wyatt apologist posts, I may have passed.

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      • Really? These have been comments, not articles, and are merely the flipside of quite a commonly and strongly held sentiment, which I think ignores part of the issue.

        I’d support England no matter who’s in the side. But I can’t make a defence for keeping Wyatt in the England team based on her batting performances, because a rational one cannot be made.

        I was merely trying to highlight that as things stand England don’t know if we could have seen more from her or not, based on only seeing part of her game for the last 3 1/2 years. I don’t see why that’s so contentious.

        Go listen to William Lane Craig if you want to hear a real apologist.

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  3. Well no one can’t say she hasn’t been give every opportunity to prove herself higher up the order. What happens next is the interesting part. If Sarah Taylor comes back there will be 4 players in Jones, Wyatt, Wilson and Elwiss going for 2 spots as I see it. If it’s a number 7 position, her and Elwiss might be favourites. Elwiss bowls while Wyatt has done well as an explosive batter and good fielder there. If it’s a number 6 place I’m not so sure.
    One thing we can say this year Uggy is that this regime has not been scared to upset the status quo. Wilson has been brought back in after a 5 year exile while Academy players Langston, Hartley and Eccleston have all played so I don’t think we need to worry about the Academy girls or anyone else not getting opportunity if it’s deserved.
    It’s been a remarkable year that is for sure.

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    • Just a very minor (pedantic!) point – Langston not technically an “Academy” player – has been in the “Performance” squad all along, but is not CONTRACTED – the same situation Fran Wilson was in before she was awarded a contract; and Jodie Dibble, before she disappeared.

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    • An interesting comment was made this morning on the TMS England v India lunchtime interview hosted ny Johnathan Agnew.

      Trevor Bayliss, England men’s current coach, was criticised for giving players too many additional opportunites to suceed after it became quite clear that they were not up to test match cricket. The players cited were Vince, Balance and now Duckett.

      By comparison, these 3 players, IN TOTAL, have played only a small fraction of the 118 games/opportunities that Wyatt has been given.

      Other players should have been given a chance in her place a long time ago.

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  4. Dangerous to compare the men’s internalal cricket to the woman’s game John.
    The men’s game has a huge amount of professional players to pick from while the women’s game doesn’t. I also read some criticism of Bayliss for picking Duckett to early, so there will always be different points of view. If we would have followed Syds recommendation Beaumont would have been shown the door and look at the year she has just had.
    What is true though with Wilson back and Elwiss bowling again, Wyatt’s spot is under pressure in ODI cricket and I’m sure she knows it too.

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  5. Interesting discussion (but focusing on one player isn’t maybe quite as interesting as some of the bigger issues). There is one aspect of the aforementioned ‘blog-dialogue’ that has broader significance.

    Whilst Danni had a howler in Sri Lanka I asked myself the question ‘so what’, in that, easy series such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan are not going to be determined by one players’ performance (they aren’t the sort of series where everyone has to ‘fire’ to win it), which leads to the broader question of performance in the series that really do matter (eg: ODI World Cups and Ashes).

    The story that comes out of such analysis is that some of our key players have little experience of such matches (not their fault of course). Going back to 2009 and looking at ICC Women’s ODI World Cup 2009, 2013, T20 World Cup 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, Ashes ODI 2009, 2011, 2013, and Ashes (ODI/T20) 2014, 2015 we find that number of innings batted are:-

    Beaumont 1 (ODI) and 8 (T20)
    Winfield 1 (ODI) and 4 (T20)
    Knight 18 (ODI) and 12 (T20)
    Sciver 7 (OD) and 15 (T20)
    Jones 3 (ODI) and 2 (T20)
    Elwiss 3 (ODI) and 1 (T20)
    Wyatt 11 (ODI) and 14 (T20)
    Wilson 0 and 0
    Hazell 4 (ODI) and 7 (T20)
    Marsh 13 (ODI) and 10 (T20)
    Gunn 21 (ODI) and 16 (T20)
    Brunt 10 (ODI) and 10 (T20)

    The sequence of ICC ODI World Championship matches and the ‘retirements’ of Edwards and Greenway have contributed to this so the World Cup in 2017 with the added pressure of it being a home World Cup is beginning to look like a real baptism of fire.

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