White Ferns Coach Gary Stead talks about everything from the upcoming ICC World Twenty20 tournament, to where he would like to see the women’s game head in the coming years… read on.
You’ve been coach of the White Ferns for coming up four years now, what has been your biggest learning as a coach in that time?
The women’s game has progressed a lot in the past 5-10 years and at different rates in different countries. At the end of the day, the game of cricket is still being played whether it is by men or women, so understanding the game and nuances of it is just as important as having a great technique.
You’ve worked closely with a few of the players for a number of years now. Have you been impressed with the attitude and work you’ve seen the players put in over that time?
Absolutely. The professionalism and effort of the majority is absolutely outstanding and they will deserve all the successes that they get in the future. Professionalism to me isn’t about the financial rewards, but about the attitude and motivations that drive people to being as good as they can be.
In the last couple of years the White Ferns have had a lot of experienced players retire, which has seen the introduction of a number of new players. Are you happy with the new talent that is coming through?
Yes, we have developed more competition for places in the squad so that has been good. It has helped with a few Emerging Players tours as well which has given our next tier of players some exposure to our Australian counterparts.
Obviously the Twenty20 World Tournament is now extremely close… How do you feel about the current crop of players you have for this tournament?
Very good. We have the players that have the capabilities of winning this tournament if they play well and believe in themselves fully. In the Twenty20 format a game can be won or taken away from you by one player and I think we have many players that our opposition will fear.
You went for a two week camp to Sri Lanka in August to prepare for the World Twenty20. How pivotal will the time you spent over there be to you chances?
It was absolutely paramount that we had the opportunity to experience the conditions – they are just so different. We were lucky enough to train and play at five different grounds, all of which had different surfaces and experiences. This will help us a lot for the future in being able to adapt depending on the surface and reading the conditions. That time allowed the players to experience the cultural and environmental differences as well which is beneficial.
It’s a fairly hectic summer of cricket for the White Ferns this year, with the Rose Bowl in Australia and 50 over World Cup in India. What do you think will be the key to the team succeeding?
It will come down to the players working hard in preparation and then believing in themselves. Having clear plans in playing in sub-continent conditions and trusting them is also very important. The time now is not for too much experimentation, but more about consolidating what we already have.
Over the winter you had White Ferns players like Liz Perry and Kate Broadmore travel overseas to take part in other countries domestic leagues. This seems to be happening more and more often. What benefits do you see from these trips?
I think it’s a great opportunity for players to play more cricket, but also learn a little more about themselves as people in foreign countries. It’s a pity the English summer was so poor! We also have Suzie Bates and Sian Ruck signed up to play in some of the Australian league this summer so it’s all good for growing their experiences.
It seems that the women’s game is continuing to grow – how would you like to see the game continue to progress in the coming years?
In New Zealand we need to try and develop the profile of the White Ferns so they can also attract youngsters to the game. Opportunities for media coverage are essential as well as trying to ensure sustainability of the game by having high quality development programmes in the Major Associations. In terms of the elite level and skills, I would like to see the game continue to be played at a faster pace. It has already begun too, which I think is an encouraging sign.