Liddle joins England Women pace programme as Wong saga shows pressure on young fast bowlers

Liddle joins England Women pace programme as Wong saga shows pressure on young fast bowlers

Jon Lewis, England women’s head coach, believes the recruitment of Chris Liddle to the women’s performance program will help provide the “scaffolding” needed for the team’s generation of young fast bowlers to thrive, in the wake of the senior struggle Issy Wong profile. to be in shape last summer.

Liddle, a former Northamptonshire assistant coach, was announced as England women’s performance bowling coach on Friday, ahead of England A’s upcoming training camp in Oman, as well as the T20I and the senior team’s Test tour of India.

And with Lewis declaring fast bowling to be the “biggest area of ​​growth” in the women’s game, Liddle will now work closely with Matt Mason, England women’s fast bowling coach, who has been on the books of London Spirit at Women’s Hundred for the last two seasons. .

“It’s an incredibly exciting time to be joining England Women and I’m really looking forward to getting started,” Liddle said. “The demand for fast bowlers has increased over the years and I want to be able to provide them with the skills needed to grow and develop and be successful over a long period of time.”

The strengthening of England’s pace bowling set-up comes in the wake of Wong’s tough time in the just-ended English season. Having been overlooked for the T20 World Cup earlier in the year, she featured in a solitary T20I against Sri Lanka in Chelmsford in September, but visibly struggled with her progress as England fell to a shock eight-wicket defeat.

In the wake of that defeat, England captain Heather Knight attributed Wong’s loss of form to the fact that he had been “listening to a lot of different voices”, a not-so-veiled suggestion that his management at Birmingham Phoenix had been at fault. . Over the course of his winless campaign, Wong claimed just one wicket in five appearances, but bowled just one five-delivery set in four of those games.

However, at the age of 21, she remains one of the country’s most promising young talents, and has now been named part of a 21-player training camp for England’s winter leg in Oman. She will also play for Mumbai in the upcoming WPL season, having bagged a memorable hat-trick in the inaugural edition of the tournament last year.

“Issy obviously had a really tough summer,” Lewis said. “There is no doubt that she is a very energetic competitor, but after the Sri Lanka series, I said that we would give her as much support as possible. She has been practicing very well at Loughborough, and the next step for Issy is to return to competitive cricket. .

“But I think putting her straight back into an England shirt would be a mistake after what happened in the summer. I want to give her time, to show us that she is more sure of where the ball is going to land when it comes out.” her from the tip of her fingers. Side A is a very good way to do it. “We hope that the work we are doing with her is very clear for everyone to see.”

In her prime, Wong remains one of the fastest bowlers in the women’s game and an obvious heir in all formats to Katherine Sciver-Brunt, who ended her 19-year career in August.

However, with other young England fast bowlers vying for international recognition, notably 17-year-old left-hander Mahika Gaur and 22-year-old Lauren Filer, the breakout star of this year’s Women’s Ashes, Lewis said That Wong’s difficulty development should be taken as a warning to others going through the system.

“There’s definitely an upward trajectory,” he said of Wong’s return to action. “But is it the finished article yet? No. She is a young fast bowler. All young fast bowlers go through ups and downs. Especially young fast bowlers who haven’t played much cricket.

“It takes a lot of time and a lot of balls for fast players to control the ball the way they really want,” he added. “I would expect all of our young fast bowlers to have bumpy rides for the next two, three, four years, until they reach probably the age of 26 or 27, when they have much more control not only of their bodies but their minds.

“We’ll see some ups and downs over the next two or three years, but we’ve got an incredibly exciting group and now two excellent fast bowling coaches in Matt Mason and Chris Liddle. I’m really pleased that we’re providing the right support to our fast bowling group.” , because I truly believe that fast bowling in the women’s game is the biggest growth area.”

Andrew Miller is UK editor for ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket