The departure of Head Coach Mark Robinson leaves the ECB with some huge shoes to fill in the England camp.
The role the ECB will (presumably) be advertising is not an easy one. The Head Coach isn’t just a coach – they are responsible for running a squad which eats, works, and plays together for most of the year up at Loughborough. As well as being the head coach, you’re head of a family of twenty girls!
Oh… and you have to win cricket matches too!
On paper, the latter looks most important – England need someone with cricketing credentials, who has experience at the highest levels of the game – not necessarily as a player, but definitely as a coach.
But coaching women is not the same as coaching men – it has to be someone who understands that women are not just men with pony tails. In this regard, England massively lucked-out with Robinson, who despite having zero experience coaching women coming into the job, really did “get” this.
It is not just about the Playing XI though – it is about running a squad, which has to be constantly cultivated like a garden. The coach needs to know not just the England “team”… not just the England “squad”… but the levels below that in addition – identifying which players to bring in, and which players to sadly let go too.
That head of the family thing is pretty vital as well – you are the boss, but you are also a counsellor, a confidante and a friend.
And finally, you have to do it all within the constraints of a fairly limited budget, at least compared to Australia, whose success you will always be measured against, as Robinson ultimately was.
Given all this, it’s amazing that anyone would want the role! (It is well paid, of course, compared to the jobs most of us do – but it isn’t in the realms of what you can earn at the highest echelons of the men’s game.)
But England need someone, and they need them fast, with the T20 World Cup coming up in Australia in less than 6 months, which will probably be closer to 3 months by the time they are appointed.
Looking around, there aren’t many candidates not currently under an expensive contract somewhere else.
But there is one.
A 3 times World Cup winner, who played 10 Tests and over 80 ODIs during a 10 year international career, who has since gone on to successfully coach at the highest levels of women’s domestic cricket, leading sides who consistently over-performed despite a limited budget.
She (and it is a she) is rated by everyone who has worked with her as a brilliant coach; and because she has worked almost exclusively in the women’s game, she knows the players, and they know and respect her.
She has a long-standing relationship with Heather Knight, who was her captain in WNCL and WBBL, and who credits her partly for becoming the player she is.
We are talking, of course, about Julia Price – Australia’s wicket-keeper during the glory-years around the turn of the century; who went on to coach Tasmania and Hobart Hurricanes; and is currently coach of the USA national side.
Mark Robinson will be a tough act to follow, but “JP” ticks all the boxes.
Frankly, the ECB should be beating down her door; because they say everyone has their Price… and England should too!