ADAPTABILITY. If ever there was a time to be able to adapt as a coach it was this winter as a result of COVID-19 and its limitations controlling most of our program.
The NSW Breakers squad benefitted greatly from having all its players - apart from our school kids - available for the entire winter pre-season. While we enjoyed an increase in numbers, bio-security measures decreed they were split into two groups to ensure no more than 10 players were practicing in the one session.
There was a welcome bonus to this change. It allowed our players to connect and develop their skills whilst building their group’s culture.
In summary, we approached the pre-season with a vastly different outlook to previous years. We were grateful to be able to come to work and do what we do best. We all understood what was happening around our country and knew there were many less fortunate people who couldn’t continue working . . . or living for that matter . . . in the same way as they’d done in the past. We acknowledged the kids who weren’t playing sport on weekends, and we thought about the parents who were assisting their kids with inspiring support and care. There was a maturity shift from our group through this experience.
This inspired our players and staff to dive into our program and strive to break new ground. We saw numerous personal bests in the physical space, with all players bettering their fitness levels. We’ve observed development in all our players in skill development, but the most important area of growth I saw was the collaboration of players and staff to prepare themselves for the upcoming season.
On the eve of the WBBL I think back to a conversation I had with our newly appointed Heads of female and male cricket, Leah Poulton and Greg Mail. We discussed how we are looking to approach the 2020-21 season. We discussed not slowing down or using the COVID limitations as an excuse to prevent the kind of program development we expect at CNSW.
If other states had to stop, we said we’d respect their decision, however, our view was we wouldn’t stop driving our development of players and staff. It laid the platform for us to adapt as we received weekly news from our COVID intel on what was achievable within our program. Whilst many states had to put off staff, we marched on, hiring staff and maintaining support of our people. It was inspiring stuff from our leaders.
The moment came when we were informed the WNCL program would be held post-Christmas, and the WBBL competition would run first in the female domestic calendar. That day we made the logical decision to adjust our program and focus solely on the T20 format for our players.
We changed our practice match schedule to remove any 50-over cricket and play T20 cricket. We adjusted our practice sessions, scenario sessions and our physical training to meet the demands of the T20 format. It was adaptability at is strongest form from our staff with our fingers on the pulse.
Collaboration is a word that is at the forefront of every staff member at CNSW, it is ironic that the rest of the country currently hear the word isolate! Our collaboration with both WBBL coaches and staff was instrumental to preparing the players for the WBBL.
We connected on numerous occasions and devised a plan for the preparation of each player. It was refreshing to see both the Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers combining and assisting our program through this collaboration.
More inspiring is what our players and staff are enduring; living in isolation to enable the game to continue at the elite level. Removing themselves from their homes and family for a few months and sacrificing so many everyday experiences in the process. All players and staff from around the country are doing this to allow our game to continue, and to inspire the next generation of female cricketers.
This winter, I’ve watched players from our Breakers camp go through exams, go to part-time work before and after training, to buying property and moving into their first home. It is never dull! Nevertheless, they turn up daily on time and crack on with some good old-fashioned hard work to strive to become the best cricketers they demand of themselves.
Our female players are becoming more professional and are improving the ‘product’ along the way. Scores, strike-rates, speed and power are all increasing, as are the cricket strategies we’re seeing executed. This is all aimed at improving the female cricket product.
We will one day have enough domestic cricket on a calendar and enough funding for all our programs to title our players “Full-time”. If you’re in Sydney over the next two months get out to a match or two to support and experience the skills and craft our wonderful players have to offer.
Tickets for WBBL|06 are on sale now for all matches: