August 6, 2003

England Women have new man at helm

England's women go into the first npower Test against South Africa at Shenley looking for an inspirational start for their new Head Coach.

Richard Bates, the 31-year-old former Nottinghamshire off-spin bowler, was named as the new Head Coach in May this year. With little time to spend with the England squad before the npower women's Test series and NatWest Women's Series, Bates has at least been helped by the experience of his involvement with the women's game since 2001.

A part of the coaching support staff with the England U19 and Senior England women, Bates was also a Super Fours coach in 2002. "Being coach of the Super Strikers has been a huge advantage for me as I know the players and have the benefit of working within the women's cricket coaching system for the past months," he said ahead of the first of two npower Tests and three NatWest ODIs during August.

He takes over a squad with increased confidence having moved steadily up the One-Day International table, from fifth to third in the past couple of years under the tutelage of John Harmer. He has also been immediately impressed by the depth of talent available to England.

"There's no doubt that there are many more players to chose from for England, and the depth in talent is apparent in all departments. With Super Fours acting as a finishing school for the elite players, many have taken their opportunity to prove they are ready to play international cricket. In addition, it's proof that the system is working, and that the Counties and Clubs are working increasingly hard on raising both the numbers of girls playing and the standard of play."

Bates knew what he was taking on having seen England perform at close quarters and spending time with the England U19 on their highly successful tour of Australia. His involvement with the Harmer revolution in women's coaching ensures that his own strengths as a coach will enhance and drive the progress already made and provide continuity for the squad.

"These are really exciting times for the England team. They are a great squad, with lots of enthusiasm and an exceptional level of commitment to their training and playing. The England players work hard to be part of this set-up and it shows in the way they play the game," said Bates, impressed by the dedication the elite women show to their sport, from training and traveling to their willingness to constantly learn and develop. Equally impressive is the work/cricket balance they achieve given that many have full time jobs or equally time demanding families.

Looking forward to the opening match of the npower Test Series, Bates added: "I wish the England team a good and, hopefully successful series and in particular I would like to wish the very best of luck to our two debutants, Beth Morgan and Rosalie Birch."