Former England Women's captain Charlotte Edwards is giving the USA women's squad a leg-up in their preparation for the ICC Europe T20 Qualifier this summer by visiting Texas to run a women's coaching camp.
"Part of what I'm over here for is to help prepare them, talk to them about T20 cricket," Edwards told ESPNcricinfo. "I've had a little bit of a chat with the girls around the strategy behind it. I'm just trying to help them as much as I possibly can in preparation for that tournament, which is huge for them."
Edwards arrived in Texas last Saturday and worked the next day with six players of the women's squad who were invited to join the USA men's team at a high-performance camp last weekend at Moosa Stadium in the south Houston suburb of Pearland. She has remained in Pearland to conduct a four-day camp that began on Thursday and is specifically targeted for 30 women's squad players to train during the Easter holiday weekend.
This isn't the first interaction Edwards has had with the USA women's squad. She was part of the inaugural MCC women's tour to North America in September and played a couple of matches against USA women in Philadelphia, including one at the historic Merion Cricket Club. At the time, Edwards had said she would be interested in making future visits to stay involved with the USA women's programme and has followed up on her pledge by coming to Texas this week.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the MCC here in Canada and the United States," Edwards said. "For me, I just saw a passion for learning and wanting to be better and I think there was just a hunger here for obviously some female coaching. I'm a person of my word and I said I'd come back.
"Back in September, that opportunity wasn't there then and it's great. Once I heard that they've got that opportunity to play in a T20 Qualifier, it's enormous."
Edwards says she has already noticed improvements in the women's players since her first visit and is hoping to do what she can on this trip to enhance their tactical skills and match awareness, identifying those as key areas for improvement. She believes women's players in the USA are disadvantaged in tactics simply by lack of match opportunities at club level - there are approximately 100 women's players registered nationwide - to be able to test out methods and learn from experience.
"There's many things I kind of want to help with," Edwards said. "I think growing their awareness of the game and obviously having played a lot myself, hopefully I can pass on a lot of advice and experiences that I've been through. Upskilling them, that's always important. Working on their skill development, giving them options especially in terms of the batting. I think that's where probably I'm hopefully going to be a real asset to them.
"We'll be doing a lot of scenario work. They obviously don't get that much chance to play cricket so we've got to create that as much as we can over the four-day camp which I'm really excited about."
USA women's captain Nadia Gruny said she was eager to work with Edwards again after their initial meeting in Philadelphia last year. Gruny was one of the six women's players invited to the men's camp last weekend and said that Edwards had already begun to make a difference from day one of her interactions with the half-dozen members of the USA Women's squad, offering unique insights on the women's game that the players were unable to get from other coaches.
"We worked with her last September and seeing her again in April, it's quite a lot of months, but at the same time it feels like there is some continuation; it doesn't feel like it was a long time ago," Gruny said. "Having Charlotte with us, we're able to relate to her a lot better because she's a woman player and she understands many of the nuances of the women's game that may be different to the men's game.
"For example, women that haven't as much strength as most of the men, the pace of the spinners, what to expect from the bowlers in a typical women's game. So just being able to relate to us with our game specifically has been a big help."
When asked about the possibility of joining USA's coaching staff in a formal capacity for the T20 Qualifier, which is scheduled for August 12-20 in Scotland, Edwards said she would have to decline due to her commitments in England's Kia Super League. But she is keen to pass along whatever she can before then, starting with this week's camp in Texas. The eagerness of the players to soak up tips is a major reason why Edwards said she is offering her support to the USA Women's team.
"I think they're just growing in confidence the whole time," Edwards said. "I think the opportunities they're now getting in terms of being [at the men's national camp] for the week, they've loved it. They're relishing all the opportunities they're getting and they're improving.
"What stood out to me is we were doing a really good fielding session with Trevor Penney and just their resilience, their real hunger to want to be better and I think that's something you can't coach. Them willing to take stuff they're learning in the nets into the match situations. I just think they're growing in confidence all the time which, hopefully, they'll just continue to do that."