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June 22, 2007
Mark Dobson is relishing the challenge of being England's new coach. A Level-3 coach, he brings with him a host of experience of the women's game, having been involved in Junior Super Fours for three years and has recently take on the role of coach for the senior Emerald side.
For 12 years he has been head of PE at St. Edmund's School in Canterbury, a role he will now surrender. It's a big step to leave the relative predictability and anonymity of school life for a full-time coaching role, which will involve overseas tours and media commitments. But Dobson, who has played for Kent and coached the Kent Academy, is ready.
"I'm really excited," he told Cricinfo in his first-ever interview. "I was looking for a change." Not to mention a challenge. England had a poor showing in the quandrangular series in India in February - and they were lucky to come third rather than last, after losing their group games. Then their vice-captain Laura Newton retired.
They now face New Zealand this summer - and they will be lucky if their captain Charlotte Edwards is fit in time, while Katherine Brunt is all-but-ruled out with surgery of her own. He's not yet seen enough of the players to decide who he would like in the side, and that means he's not had time yet to think of the new vice-captain. The captain, however, is another proposition.
"I've had some fruitful meetings with Charlotte Edwards," he says. Edwards is keen on the appointment, and she gives Dobson her full backing. "He is one of the most inspiring coaches within women's cricket with loads of new and exciting ideas."
Gill McConway, the ECB director of women's cricket, has also paid tribute to his innovation. "He's a very enthusiastic individual who expects strong work ethics. He has an amazing ability to turn training sessions into high levels of entertainment through his creative and innovative coaching styles."
Dobson already has plans for change, and will bring over some of these from the men's game. "Certainly, men hit harder. We will be looking to hit in the air, to open the score ones, twos or threes. We'll be looking for a wider range of strokes."
There are no current plans for bowling tactics - these will be developed once he's had a chance to see the Kiwi players. "I'm not too aware of the New Zealand batsmen just yet," he says.
He's not had much chance to work with his own squad, in fact, as he is seeing out his contract at school. But he will link up with them ahead of the New Zealand series this summer. And he's already seen some of the players at the Super 4s, the competition from which the England side will be drawn. "I've been impressed with the standard."
England women take on an Invitational XI this Sunday at Taunton ahead of the men's Twenty20, and they then appear at Edgbaston on Tuesday
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