England cricket: new women’s head coach could inspire ‘Bazball’ phenomenon if broadcasters allow it

What England’s new head coach could do for women cricketers ahead of T20 World Cup and Ashes series

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Due to the deliberation from the Windies Cricket Board, a large proportion of cricket fans may not have realised England women began a bilateral series against West Indies on Sunday 4 December 2022, and thrashed their opponents in the opening fixture.

Not only did Heather Knight’s squad comprehensively defeat their hosts, but the opening match appears to signal the start of a new era as Jon Lewis becomes England Women’s new head coach.

Both Knight and Nat Sciver made their return to the squad following significant periods of time out with Sciver bouncing back to form, hitting 90 off 96 balls to put England in command and their total score of 307 was eventually 142 runs too many for the West Indians.

However, with a new head coach now leading the charge, this remarkable win could hopefully mean much more to the squad than just seeing Sciver back in brilliant action. Could this be the start of yet another ‘new era’ of England cricket?

With the T20 World Cup and a home Ashes series just around the corner in 2023, the impact of the new head coach will hope to prove as vital as the presence of Brendon McCullum has done for the men’s game.

In fact, for any cricket fan who has been living under a rock for the past few months, England men’s head coach has been given his own style of play nickname - Bazball - and his side have recently completed yet another historic victory as they defeated Pakistan in Rawalpindi by 74 runs only on Monday 5 December.

Lewis has only been steering the ship for only a couple of weeks and has already recorded a monstrous win - much like his men’s squad counterpart achieved earlier this summer. Additionally, when taking over the job, Lewis spoke of his wish to “take the handbrake off, free (the squad) up and get them to play to their full potential.”

Heather Knight then backed up this statement by saying: “I see us, and Jon sees us, as being super positive and a little more aggressive. How far can we take this thing, how far can we push it? We are on the same page. We want to walk towards the danger, be aggressive and smart.”

Heather Knight and England squad at Commonwealth Games in August 2022Heather Knight and England squad at Commonwealth Games in August 2022
Heather Knight and England squad at Commonwealth Games in August 2022

Take the handbrake off, becoming more aggressive… both these phrases decidedly similar to another side who have recently become far more aggressive and, not only taken the handbrake off, but seemingly ripped it out of the car altogether.

England’s women endured a troubling summer. They ended the Commonwealth Games in fourth position and were thumped 3-0 by India in a subsequent ODI series. Much like Joe Root’s side was back in March this year, the team were in dire need of a reboot.

However, the recent dominating win over West Indies may well signal the start of these new beginnings and, fans may well hope, that Lewis could earn himself his own style-of-play-nickname if this commanding method of destruction can continue.

Lewis’ appointment could not come at a more crucial time. With such a busy 2023 ahead, the ‘rebuilding’ of the squad will have to take place in a compact period of time before the women’s team hope to replicate their male counterpart’s success by lifting the T20 World Cup Trophy in February.

Additionally, with an Ashes series and bilateral series against Sri Lanka to prepare for, ahead of what is set to be another dramatic The Hundred tournament, 2023 is scheduled to be England women’s biggest year of cricket to date but a team rebuild is not the only thing on the agenda to improve the game.

The first fixture of England’s series against West Indies was played on BT Sport via an apparently temperamental stream which didn’t even show the scorecard. Sports Journalist and cricketer Georgie Heath took to Twitter to say: “Find it really upsetting Eng v WI has such poor coverage. I’ve been so optimistic about advancements in the women’s game but this feels like a kick in the face showing how backward things are still in terms of giving it the platform it deserves.”

Now, it must be pointed out that this series was hastily put together and only officially confirmed on 7 November, therefore timing to set up proper coverage would very well have been an issue. However, England women cannot sustain playing the matches they are scheduled to next year if they are not given the right platforms on which to, quite literally, broadcast themselves.

With England a few months away from their busiest calendar yet, Heath is right to point out that we are still battling away with seemingly basic requests when it comes to coverage - in a game of cricket, or any sport for that matter, it’s rather vital you’re able to read the score, wouldn’t you say?

It’s only natural to also ponder on the idea that if we are to expect similar results to what we have seen from England’s Bazball set-up over the coming months, being able to watch England’s women will be a phenomenally exhilarating experience. Knight and her squad now have two more ODIs to play and a further five T20s in the Caribbean to get through ahead of the white-ball tournament next February. This is hardly any game time when one has a new coach leading the charge, but the men have shown that this is of little matter and results are there to be taken.

Well, now is the Women’s squad’s time. They’ve held both trophies before now, and with their new ‘aggressive’ style of play to perfect, 2023 could very well be the year they rediscover the magic that brought such glory back in 2017. The broadcasters need to play their part, too.

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